Today, everyone in New York City resonates to the beautiful sky that blesses us on this day marked by September 11. It is a beautiful day. It is misleading to say we "remember." We inhale that eternal moment of terror. It is embedded in our DNA. Like a chime that echoes our senses, we see our neighbors, colleagues, brothers, sisters, mama, papa, flailing at infinity anguished by the torch that was conflagrated by hatred, ignorance and self-righteousness. They are standing on the edge with nowhere to go. They are we. The difference that 2001 day is that they had no choice but to dive into darkness. Some held hands, many screamed, all vanished. Those who survive remain on the border of a dark pool.
As many, I worked on Wall Street 9 years ago just two blocks from the World Trade Center. I could see the monoliths from my cafeteria on our 47th floor where I ate my nightly dinner. That summer on my way to work I walked past the towers wondering how such structures in conflict with gravity could remain upright. I know that conquering this primeval tension between civilization and nature was a source of pride for many of us. I understand.
I also recognize our trauma. You may know those who were personally touched by that horrific day, wandering in the gray, silent mist frantic to find shelter. There were infinite moments of grace in those hours, minutes. People risked perceiving reality to help a stranger. Young (not so young) men and women climbed doomed staircases to stretch the limits of survival for those hopelessly trapped by timeless combustion. We know this because we have since exhaled words, syllables, sounds, challenging the impossibility of communicating the true music of a soul's glory. Each year we come to the original sin so we may say the names of the disappeared. Each year the miracle of love's presence envelop us. We speak within a lit shroud for the world to witness the spark of life.
This year, however, the inevitable strands of dormant hatred have surfaced from the shadow of our fear. We use this occasion to inflame dissonance, promoting this cause or the other. We burn each other's belief in God. We decry our constitution in the name of pretended freedom. There are those of us who have fallen into the hollow of amnesia. We discard elegance and choose chaos. We choose to jump into madness.
And so to those of us who would burn holy books, mock righteous paths to love and allow our shadow to swathe our lives, I embrace you. If I could, I would strip away my anger, my hatred, my weakness so I may reveal your beauty and power. But you see I am not able to do that today as I sit in the middle of this beautiful, late summer day near New York City, for I share profoundly our humanity. It is always one's peril that floats to the surface when contemplating trauma. We need to accept the waters in which we tread or we all will drown. When we recognize each other in all our splendid stain, we will endow our breath with waves destined to lift us into the radiance that emanates from our soul.
We do not burn in vain.