Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11, Hurricanes: Opportunities for Love

Seven years ago may seem like a long time ago to some. Many feel that reliving those moments today only reopen old wounds that have scarred over and lessened with time. For me, the reality of that day – not so long ago – is as real today as it ever was.
It hits me deep inside my gut as I remember how I moment-by-moment lived through what was then the unknown, and how I watched as that unknown grew more and more horrible. I remember knowing that the worst was not over as I followed the events. I remember feeling the pain that engulfed me as I empathetically received it from the so many who were closer than I. I remember scanning through every news channel hoping for one more bit of information, one more fact, one more bit of knowledge to help me create a picture of the enormity of what had happened, so that I could find some sense in all of it. It took me years to not check the news constantly as a way to temper my fears.
Today, I still feel an internal sense of heightened alert, one that I am not sure will ever go away. I have attained a sense of peace, however, and my belief that good far outweighs bad has only been strengthened. It is hard for me to call any event – whether human made or natural – a tragedy – because always, always, there is the good that follows. I can hope, over the course of a lifetime, to be so noble as the many were in the course of minutes. What we realize - when the smoke eases, when the waters recede - is that in these terrible moments, our humanity, our oneness with God - sometimes clouded by our earthliness - emerges.
To understand the kindness, the love for humanity that these moments bring out in all of us is to understand our souls and our purpose in life. Life is about God, and God is about Love. It doesn’t matter how you get there, if you take the direct route or the back roads, if you hit a lot of potholes or if you have smooth sailing. Whatever it takes, love. Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself. Simply Love. Love uplifts all, conquers all, achieves all. It is who we are. Everything else – that’s all it is: everything else.
It touches me that today, on the anniversary of 9/11, we face another event from which the opportunity to love will present itself. How poignant that we remember the victims of a terrorist attack on a day when we face an impending natural disaster, and how remarkable that this natural disaster reminds us of yet another natural disaster. We feel the pain, yes. Some even feel the fear. But - move beyond that. What is underneath? It is the love of people pulling together and helping others and serving others. These events that are awful in so many ways also bring out our best, and are our reminder that in our humanity, in humankind, we are one. Let us do unto others as we would have others do unto us. I, for one, choose to love.

~ You’ll remember the last time we faced such a large-scale hurricane evacuee population in Austin, I volunteered at the Red Cross shelter at the Austin Convention Center. You might like to read through some of what I experienced then. There are multiple posts so the simplest way is to click on the year 2005 in the sidebar and then scroll down to the beginning of September. There is some interesting stuff there. I was both reporting (in articles) and commenting (in columns) at the time for publications - in addition to volunteering - so I have an immersed perspective.

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