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.