Reflecting on the Events of 9-11 Nine Years Later – Part 1

This past Saturday night, our Second MIle Group (a ministry geared for 20’s & 30’s) gathered to reflect on the events of 9-11 on its nine year anniversary. We spent time being led in worship by Glenn (beautiful song selection) and a liturgy of service written by Thomas Turner who included adaptations of other church’s prayers offered in the midst of suffering and pain. We listened to a member of our church telling us how he got out of Tower 1 that fateful day and what was going on his mind then and since. I shared a message and then we broke up in groups to discuss what we were thinking and how we are processing this, the Islamic Center in Manhattan, a post 9-11 America and the many other topics attached.

But why do this especially in light of living in the NYC metro and therefore carrying a great deal of emotion for so many of us in the community? Though it was completely understandable when people expressed uncertainty about coming or stating that they weren’t, we had confidence that the night would help bring hope and healing. As one who appreciates conversation and the idea of collectively figuring things out together (hence my appreciation for small groups, twitter and blogging), this seemed appropriate. And what better place than our church?

It was 5 years ago when I came to the conclusion that I needed to rethink how I processed this tragedy. I was flying with a one way ticket from Boston to Atlanta, connecting in Charlotte on the 5 year anniversary of 9-11. Being Egyptian, I was randomly screened just about every time I flew. (Every so often someone says to me, “But you were born in the States, you’re a Protestant-Christian pastor, etc” Among the many sad lessons of 9-11 is that you cannot take chances). For the most part, I was ok with it because I really wanted to the plane to land safely as well. But by my second security check and my treatment in Charlotte, my anger caught up with me. I boarded the plane, sat down, and found myself too frustrated to read. For me it was a shame, because the day before one of my best friends got married and I had the honor of giving the English message and served as co-best man. I stared out the window acknowledging that my anger over the events of 9-11 controlled me and I needed to change.

Tomorrow, I plan on posting what came next for me. In the meantime, are you content with your feelings towards the event of 9-11? Where are you in that process? Have you stopped trying to resolve it and attempted to cast it out of the forefront of your mind? How one deals with the magnitude of evil and tragedy of that day will reflect one’s belief system and what lies in their soul. Sounds dramatic I know. But it’s true.

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