11 September 2013

Holy Reverie: 11 September 2013

Holy Reverie is the weekly clergy column in Calvary's electronic newsletter, the e-Pistle.  Subscribe today!

I was sick in bed. I skipped chapel that Tuesday, but after a fitful attempt to sleep in (punishment for my truancy, probably), I finally resigned myself to consciousness and turned on my television. "What's going on in the world?" I wondered. The ancient tube took a few moments to warm up, but as it flickered, it displayed that villainous scene: World Trade Center Tower One, burning. What the ...

I don't remember much else of that day - just a blur of TV news images, conversations with classmates who heard or saw the other plane strike the Pentagon, only a few miles from Virginia Seminary, frantic phone calls with my then-girlfriend Ellen who had just started a new job teaching middle school math. One moment is crystal clear, however. Around three o'clock, I received an e-mail from a fraternity brother, sent to every address in his contacts. The message said, simply and desperately, "has anyone seen my dad?" He worked in Tower Two. He was never found.

Darkness is a reality of the human condition. Car accidents, scraped knees, bad colds - they come and go, and we give thanks to God when they depart. But when real darkness descends - unexpected death, great storms, horrible tragedy - we sometimes forget that God is there. In those truly desperate moments, those moments when we would bargain anything away to change reality, God's presence can be hard to find. But God is there.

God is there, incarnate in those heroic first responders who charged, "up the stairs, into the fire," to quote Bruce Springsteen. God is there, in the people and clergy of St. Paul's Chapel who offered sanctuary in the days that followed. God is there, in the people and artists who so beautifully remember.

The prophet Isaiah once wrote, "The Lord will guide you continually, / and satisfy your needs in parched places, / and make your bones strong; / and you shall be like a watered garden, / like a spring of water, / whose waters never fail. / Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; / you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; / you shall be called the repairer of the breach, / the restorer of streets to live in."

Our bones are strong. And with God, they will rise. Resurrection prevails. Even as we remember dark times or walk in dark places, God's amazing grace never abandons us. Never.

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