Journey with John
The darkest tragedies tend to – at least for a time – bring out the best in humanity. It’s good to remember the moments when people rise up to their finest selves, looking beyond unspeakable deeds of terror that we see too frequently in a few. Last week, in New York City, we were reminded of the largeness of the human spirit in the midst of deadly chaos. Cherilyn and I went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum dedicated to the lives of innocent victims lost in the massacre in 2001. 2,977 people were killed that day at the World Trade Center – no warning, no time to prepare, no opportunity to say goodbye. There is a room with pictures of the victims. As you walk among the fallen, you hear the voices of their loved ones speak their names, offering their farewell. It’s impossible to describe the overwhelming grief that seizes you as you recognize the enormity of such loss. There’s a portion of a staircase with a picture of people going down and a single firefighter going up. A caption from a survivor reads, “We were on our way to freedom. He was going to meet his death.” It was heart breaking and soul inspiring. The first responders deserve our admiration and thanks. There were hundreds of people that day at the 9/11 Museum paying their respects. Every race, religion, and lifestyle were represented in the solemn, sacred offering of love we witnessed. People were respectful as they mourned the lost lives and shattered dreams. God was present in our grief. I’m thankful we went. We cannot forget….
We had another chance to understand the enormity of 9/11 when we saw the Broadway musical, “Come from Away.” It’s the story of Gander, Newfoundland in Canada and the people whose lives changed on 9/11. 38 planes carrying 7,000 passengers were forced to land in tiny Gander. There was no warning to the townspeople, no time to prepare, and suddenly, they had the responsibility of caring for 7,000 strangers that didn’t want to be there. The citizens rose to the challenge, giving themselves and their limited resources without hesitation. They showed the power of real hospitality. It was a stunning play that challenged, provoked and moved you to joy. This true story of selfless service is powerful. The goodness of humanity is bigger and stronger than the ugliness and hatred of a few. I’m grateful for our New York reminders that even in the greatest evil, there are first responders and hosts opening their lives to strangers in love…. It describes the Church of Jesus Christ as it is meant to be. Where can we serve with passion to overcome evil? Be open to God’s direction. May the good always overcome the evil.