9/11. Death in real time.

1378902292001-911091113-002I remember the phone call while I was driving to work. In slow traffic on Lake Shore Drive, I turned on the radio and glanced at the driver next to me. She appeared to be gasping for air.

It was about 8:40 in Chicago.

When I arrived at my office someone had set up a television set in the reception area. I remember just being frozen for maybe an hour or so. None of us moved or even spoke too much. It was only later that I realized I had been gripping the hand of the man standing next to me.

We watched death in real time.  I had never watched death unfold as it was happening. The surreal nature of watching small dark specks jumping from the buildings; the horror of seeing firemen and police rushing into the tower minutes before 200,000 tons of concrete and steel collapsed on them.

We all carry various lessons from 9/11. For me I carry this one especially: Life is fragile. Time is brief. We are a human family — all of us webbed and tethered together. And in the same manner that we saw death unfold, we can watch life unfold too. And more than watch: we can pass life along.

We can express a smile of gratitude at the driver who waves us into a busy lane, we can share a proud celebratory glance with the young monkey-bar climber and we can be patient with the confused senior fumbling for change in the check out line. We can be participants in the flourishing of the human family.

To me the best way to honor the horror of death is by living completely. To be aware of the life all around me, to participate in it and pass it all along: the kindness, the goodness, the hope and the love.

One thought on “9/11. Death in real time.

  1. Laura, you are NOT a Christian…you are a humanist. It took 9/11 for you to learn that “Life is fragile”? 9/11 was textbook “pure evil”. If you can look evil in the face and not articulate that it is evil, then you are not a Christian. If you are a minister of the Church, you are poison to the Christian church. “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” – Proverbs 17:15

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