Every year at this time I try to stop and remember that awful day. We lived just over an hour away from Manhattan in 2001. We lived in a nice community along the East coast on the border of Connecticut and Rhode Island. It was a beautiful morning, sunny, clean air, transitioning between summer and gorgeous New England fall.
It is the beauty of that day that adds shock. With a brilliant stream of sunlight cascading across our wood floor, I remember calling a dear friend, Bill Armerding, in Vancouver and canceling or phone appointment. He hadn't yet turned on the TV. With an eternal blue broken by brilliant white clouds tented across the sky, I remember checking on one of our neighbors around noon- after hearing that her brother was in the WTC towers. The air was so blue, so fresh… and so incredibly quiet. It was then that I realized there were no planes. None. I couldn't see any. Even up in the highest reaches of the sky, no moving mechanics. We lived under a popular flight pattern where planes from all over the world would transit through either New York or Boston. And at that moment, I was stunned to see the sky so inhumane.
Then a faint low rumble developed in the distance. I stopped in my tracks, unable to move, unable to decipher what my ears were hearing. What's that? An earthquake? Another explosion? It's getting closer. And louder. I remember my heart beating through my chest. Is this another kamikaze plane?! What's it going after. The roar in that split second became deafening just as a fighter jet screamed over my head – I'd guess not more than 200 feet off the ground. I thought I had stopped breathing for a moment.
What a terrible day that was. And yet, I remember turning to the Lord. And I remember praying. Praying a lot. I remember sensing God being near, in the tragedy, concerned for his earth, concerned for his people, embracing and carrying the fallen in his arms, weeping with those in fear, mourning with those in loss, holding those in shock, emboldening those with courage, making my heart more alive in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.