8 years ago today, I was on my first big business trip. After graduating college, I worked for a company that did review courses for doctors about to take their board exams. This was the first course that I had a big part in. I was nervous and excited. We were in Denver, Colorado in a hotel and the course was scheduled to begin the morning of 9/11. I was up early that day trying to get everything ready, and as I went downstairs to the lobby for something, I saw many people had gathered around a TV...
Suddenly strangers at a hotel were more than strangers. It was numbing and surreal. We all just stood around the TV. Soon the hotel staff set up extra TVs around the lobby. People from New York and D.C. were calling home in a panic. My company's staff realized that there would be no presenters flying in for our course. And there would be no participants able to fly home. My boss made the decision to continue the course anyway. I disagreed with his decision, but I worked pretty much non-stop that week to make sure that the people who were stuck there had the best course they could have, considering the circumstances.
It was a long terrible week away from family and friends. There were some tearful phone calls to Frank and my mom. My wedding was scheduled for September 22nd, just 11 days after September 11th, and in the back of my mind I was wondering if all our guests would be able to come or if we should even re-schedule the whole thing...
I had made plans ahead of time to meet one of my college friends (who had moved to Denver) for dinner one night. Both of us needed to see a familiar face, I think, and we kept the dinner date. I remember us discussing the hate-filled remarks my friend had heard where she worked toward a person "appearing" to be "Arab." More fear and hatred does not erase hatred...
We ended up driving back to Indiana from Colorado at the end of the week. We drove through the night just to make it home as soon as we could. I was never so glad to be back at my little one-room apartment on 7th Street in Terre Haute. It was early Sunday morning and I remember laying down, exhausted, wishing Frank was there. I think I grew up a lot that week. I found a strength in myself...in my faith...that I didn't know existed before that week.
On September 22, 2001, Frank and I were married. It was a beautiful September day. My grandmother made a trip in a plane across the country by herself. (She's always been a brave lady!) Our guests celebrated with us. It was a day of joy. It's not that we had forgotten the tragedy of just 11 days before. It was that we knew that the world had NOT, indeed, ended. And that the God of all creation held us in His hands despite this hell on earth that had taken place. Sin and evil seek to separate us from God, but He is a God of restoration and redemption. He never changes. To these beliefs I cling...on September 11, 2001. And on September 11, 2009. And on September 11, 2017.
Reminds me of Isaiah 61...
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
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