Prayer on 9/11

When the World Spins Crazy
By Walter Brueggemann

When the world spins crazy,
spins wild and out of control
spins toward rage and hate and violence,
spins beyond our wisdom and nearly beyond our faith,
When the world spins in chaos as it does now among us…

We are glad for sobering roots that provide ballast in the storm.
So we thank you for our rootage in communities of faith,
for our many fathers and mothers who have believed and trusted as firm witnesses to us,
for their many stories of wonder, awe, and healing.

We are glad this night in this company
for the rootage of the text,
for the daring testimony,
for its deep commands,
for its exuberant tales.
Because we know that as we probe deep into this text…
clear to its bottom,
we will find you hiding there,
we will find you showing yourself there,
speaking as you do,

And when we meet you hiddenly,
we find the spin not so unnerving,
because from you the world again has a chance
for life and sense and wholeness.
We pray midst the spinning, not yet unnerved,
but waiting and watching and listening,
for you are the truth that contains all our spin. Amen.

From Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann. Prayed at the Lay School of the Pentateuch on September 17, 2001.

And today, like Walter Brueggemann did ten years ago, most of us have reflected on 9/11. Among other things, I read two interesting articles comparing the ten-year anniversary of Pearl Harbor with our commemoration of today. One post was by Nate Everett and one was an L.A. Times editorial by Jon Wiener.

It seems “the day which would live in infamy” was fairly bypassed on December 7, 1951. America was shivering into the Cold War, fighting Korea, allying with Japan, and didn’t have the time or the resolve to remember too much about Pearl Harbor.

What is different today? We certainly have taken the time and resolve to remember.

Today the memorial service in New York was somber, meaningful, and beautiful. The waterfalls–largest man-made waterfalls in North America–fall into emptiness, yet somehow fill the void. Our memories have remained strong.

My students remembered 9/11 this year. However, this is the first year my students don’t really remember. They were just two or three or four on September 11, 2001. They have absorbed the ethos of 9/11 from their older siblings and parents. Shiann is a good example. She is a serious student of 9/11, an event that continues to mark her generation as it did her all-grown-up siblings before her. This weekend Shiann wrote two posts about it–here and here.

We lost many things after 9/11. I want to remember, but I don’t want important things to be lost forever.
Did we lose…
…the resolve to make sense of spinning?
…the power to forgive?
…the ability to make allies of our enemies?

I pray we have not lost these.

Each candle across the gym represented 60 people who lost their lives on 9/11.

5 thoughts on “Prayer on 9/11

  1. Yes, Cheryl, I realize that. That’s why the ten-year anniversary would have been on December 7, 1951. Thanks for reading my blog post.

  2. Dear Denise,

    Your post is a beautiful tribute and reflection to 9/11. I appreciate your including the poem, the remembrance ceremony, the time to reflect, and the understanding from Shiann. Shiann’s posts are very powerful.

    What my mind keeps wandering to is the comparison of times. I’m pretty sure I first heard about Pearl Harbor in a Social Studies class in school. Yet my husband heard about it his whole life. He’s 3rd generation Japanese-American and the war had a huge impact on their lives. So what I’m wondering is if that was because, as you pointed out, there was the Korean War and the fears of the Cold War? Was it because my father’s side of the family is Jewish, so I grew up hearing about that aspect of the war? I’ll have to process it more, but I’ve never considered the other wars thereafter as part of equation.

    Thank you for leaving me with something to ponder, and a beautiful tribute of remembrance to those lost on 9/11.

    Kind regards,

  3. Hi Denise,

    This is such a powerful and thoughtful post. I find myself still thinking about it, and have resolution in my heart and brain. — The sign of a great post, when it grabs both.

    After much reflection, I am in awe of how incredibly deep and compassionate… and am focused on the call for hope, forgiveness, kindness, and peace.

    Thanks for helping me process this.

    Kind regards,

    1. Wow, thank you for challenging me, too, Tracy.

      I have been thinking about your first comment over the last few days pondering your and your husband’s backgrounds and how they influenced the way you both learned history of WWII. We are so influenced by our families, and so I’ve been wondering about this generation and how their families are shaping and influencing them about our modern wars.

      Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your thinking with me. I’m humbled.

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