Thoughts After September 11, 2001

Date:    9/16/01 11:06:27 PM Central Daylight Time From:    Cherry Moore To:    Joanna Taylor

Dear Joanna,

I sat down at my computer several times this week and couldn’t begin.  I couldn’t begin to pinpoint what I wanted to say.  The one thing most in my mind seemed small and petty and personal compared to the national tragedy.  Finally I realized it wasn’t insignificant.  It is where I truly am and is therefore the place where God meets me.

I was prepared to be sad on Tuesday.  Tuesday was the twentieth birthday of my beloved son, Lew, three and a half years dead.  Part of what I felt throughout the day was regret that Lew’s birthday had become this national (and worldwide) day of tragedy and mourning.  I felt some of the larger, more universal feelings, too, but they were tempered by the sadness that Lew’s birthday will be always be linked with these other events.  More than once I said outloud: “Lew, I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry that your birthday has come to be associated with this tragedy.”  (Lew’s okay with it.  It isn’t his problem; only mine.) I felt some sense of betrayal.  I had to share my “day to be sad” with others.

Tonight at church Dr. Taylor asked us to share our feelings.  Some people couldn’t do it at all and some shared political ideas and left-brained insights.  I shared some of what I just wrote.  I asked people to be mindful of friends who are grieving other losses who may not get to do the grief work they need to do because it is overshadowed by these large events.

Afterward Nippy came up and thanked me for what I had said.  It helped him understand why he had been so weepy this week.  He thought his reaction was out of proportion to his true feelings until I spoke and he realized that it was tied up with not having adequately mourned the death of his father.

I shared this other story, too: some hopefulness I felt Tuesday night.  I worked 1:00-9:30 pm Tuesday so I wasn’t home when Jay got home from school.  After watching the news for a while, he called me and we had this conversation.

J:   Mom, what can I DO? I want to DO something!

C:   Go to the Red Cross and give blood.

J:   Uhh…what ELSE can I do? (Jay had a negative experience giving blood once.)

C:   Go to the Red Cross anyway.  They’ll have some other ideas about what you can do.

When I got home from work, Jay had just gotten back from a meeting at the Red Cross.

This is what will get us through this.  Young (and old) Americans and others are asking “What can I do? How can help?” and not “Where can I hide?”

The world has changed but not all of it is on the negative side of the ledger.  Good will come out of this evil.  Where was God when this happened?  Right there in the very life forces of everyone involved, struggling and crying with them.  God did not cause this tragic event but God will redeem it.  God cries with us and works beside us.  God will help us and our country (countries) make good decisions if we allow God to help.  (Of course we are as free to make evil decisions as anyone else.)

Another thing about my reaction is that I wasn’t angry or surprised.  I KNOW that things that shouldn’t happen can happen.  Bad things do happen to good people.  Bad things have happened to me.  The Good News is that God never left me.  God cried and suffered with me and is available to give comfort and support to anyone who will accept it.

Well…I’ve gone to preaching.  Looks like I’m beginning to find the words.

Thank you for your prayers and concern. Blessings, Cherry

Image of Cherry Winkle Moore
Cherry Winkle Moore

Cherry Winkle Moore is a visual artist and a retired hospice chaplain. Cherry has a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting, drawing and printmaking from the University of Alabama. Later she completed a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in pastoral care. Cherry sometimes says that in her case the MFA stands for Minister of Fine Arts and the MDiv stands for Making Divine Images Visible.

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