Thoughts on 9/11/2011

September 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As I write this, I am listening to a live performance being broadcast by our local classical station. It is a 9/11 commemorative concert put on by a choir that has shared the stage with my chamber orchestra on more than one occasion. Rachel is doing math homework behind me at the kitchen table, with Dan alternately helping her and washing dishes. Chloe recently began her sophomore year in college, a happy passage marred only slightly this weekend by near 100-degree weather, a mildly bad burn on the back of one hand (the tea water missed her cup on Friday), and a painfully swollen bee-stung foot.

I am one of those people who did not suffer any personal loss on or following 9/11. I cried in pain at the loss that so many others experienced; I welcomed my now 84-year-old aunt who finally chose to move here four years ago, 9/11 having proved the final straw to her increasingly anxious existence in New York; and I gasped when I learned that the wife of a friend of mine was in the World Trade Center that day, amazed and grateful that she was lucky enough to be back here to tell the tale. I had played at their wedding not too many years prior. There were a few more threads that touched my own path, but nothing approaching the before-and-after seismic shifts some were forced to navigate.

My mother has told me more than once how very sorry she is that I have never experienced our country as a united people with a common cause, as she and her generation did during World War II. I am grateful to have been born after even the aftermath of that war and its atrocities, but I admit that I would love to know what it feels like to have all (or at least most) of my compatriots agree on what patriotism means, at least in the moment. In my mind 9/11 is the closest we have come.

There is that story of the German soldier who met up with an American soldier on Christmas Eve sometime during World War I. Though they were enemies, though they did not share a common language, they shared something bigger and more important. They showed each other photos of their respective families. They knew in their hearts that they shared similar emotions – missing their loved ones, fear of never returning home, wishing they could celebrate a holiday they had probably never had to miss before in their relatively short lives. Something larger than the war and enmity brought them together. If then, why not now? If once, why not forever? We know it to be possible.

My parents raised me to believe that terrible evils have been done in the name of God and religion throughout the history of humankind. I suppose one could see it that way, but I do not. I see the true enemy as a blind and desperate greed for power, most often based in fear, which seems to me to be the antithesis of any God- or Spirit-centered religion’s credo. Unfortunately it seems to come naturally to us humans to carry baggage forward into each generation, rather than learning to look around us earnestly, with new and hopeful eyes, into the eyes of those around us, whether familiar or foreign.

I hope it is all right with Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro if I offer you the words of their song “All Is Quiet”. I love this song so very much, finding it a balm in a troubled time:

*All is quiet tonight, the stars are in their places
The moon will give us light to see into each other’s faces
And I know the road is hard, but if we carry on together
We will get by

We live our lives in the eye of a hurricane
We cast our fates on seas of indifference
While all along the shoreline
We look for a chance to believe
That darkness will fade and the promise will survive
Until I hear you say

All is quiet tonight…

We make our way through streets full of danger
We build up walls to keep us inside
But they keep us apart
Till we become the worst kind of stranger
Who stands with open arms and barricades the heart
And still I hear you say

All is quiet tonight…

Just imagine how our world would be if we looked quietly into the eyes of our loved ones and enemies alike, and listened with an open mind and an open heart. Not an easy charge in a fear-filled age.

From Edith Hamilton, American educator, author and Greek scholar (1867-1963):

The truths of the spirit are proved not by reasoning about them,
Or finding explanation of them, but only by acting upon them.
Their life is dependent upon what we do about them.
Mercy, gentleness, forgiveness, patience;
If we do not show them, they will cease to be.
Upon us depends the reality of God here on Earth today.

I send this out to you with love. May we each find countless small ways to initiate ripples of peace as we go forward, and may the days to come be irrevocably changed for the better by those actions.

*(Please note: Because “All Is Quiet” was written and copyrighted by someone other than myself, I do not feel comfortable offering a recording in my blog entry. You can go to iTunes or Amazon.com to purchase the song, recorded by Lowen and Navarro, or by my own trio, the Folkaltones. Or both.)

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