I need to remember. I must not forget. I try to recall what I was thinking when the only cities on fire were far across the ocean. I review mental images of Belfast, Beirut, and Kosovo and I wonder how I managed to compartmentalize my emotions. My stomach has been in a knot and I think about mothers in those “other worlds” where war is unrelenting. It is suddenly all so personal. The President has just announced that war has been declared on America and that the evildoers will be punished. The word “evil” is all over the news. I am trying to comprehend the enormity of it, the face of it, and what my role in the battle should be.
We live twenty minutes from the Pentagon and ten minutes from Dulles Airport, and so, school is fittingly cancelled today. My nine year old thinks of the day as a snow day and my twelve year old is eager to connect with the neighborhood boys. Frank has gone to work, to lead devotions at Prison Fellowship and I watched some early morning coverage. My fourteen year old sat next to me on the couch, much closer than usual. Some of the names now have faces and there are stories of goodbyes that would unknowingly be final. I have nothing to add to the testimonies, sobs, and pleas of loved ones– so I don’t. The horror continues as the pall of smoke and ash hangs over Manhattan. The mighty five walled fortress which houses our greatest warriors looks sadly deflated. I have just turned the television off and sent the three kids to a neighbor’s pool. On the way, I learned that Capri’s schoolmate lost her grandparents on the plane from Dulles which tore into the Pentagon, killing the dad of Jordan’s schoolmate. To quote an overwhelmed, teary-eyed firefighter, “It’s just too much.”
It is noon and the house is quiet and I am left alone once again with a wide array of emotions—and gut wrenching images that are still stuck on replay. I need refuge and relief for my aching heart. I have turned to Psalms 23, 46, and 91. I am genuinely comforted. I fix my eyes, my mind, and my heart upon the Lord. He knows my comings and goings and is aware of all my days. He is also the keeper of my husband and children. He is a mighty God and His power transcends human comprehension. He is a kind God and His love is far greater than any hatred. He is a just God and He will balance the scales in His time.
In the meantime, we’ll fly our flag, mourn the loss of American life as we have known it, and offer heartfelt prayers. The kids will go to youth group later, as they do every Wednesday night. We’ll stay close to home for a while and linger at the altar this Sunday. And we’ll resume our travel schedule next week. Paris will fly to New York to attend a conference where high school students will be equipped to impact their generation with the gospel. Frank will fly to Colorado to further the network of Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree Project. And I will fly to Pennsylvania to speak at a women’s retreat.
The steel and glass of the magnificent twin towers have crumbled but the strong foundations are still in tact. So is mine.