As you are probably aware, this September 11th will mark the 10th anniversary of a most tragic day in our nation’s history. There will be memorial services, moments of silence, prayer services and the like all across the United States – and rightfully so. But after reading and reviewing a most poignant book by author Wendy Stark Healy, “Life is Too Short: Stories of Transformation and Renewal After 9/11,” I am compelled to believe that our honoring that day needs to become a part of our daily lives – for the health and happiness of our own families, and for our country as a whole.
A quote from Father Christopher Keenan, OFM, Chaplain, Fire Department of New York, inside the jacket of this book sums is all up pretty well, “As we remember these powerful stories of transformation, we celebrate that the breakdowns in our life are an opportunity for a break-through to more. Each one of us is called in our journey together to live what these stories call us to believe: that our lives are not for our own sake but for the sake of others.”
How will you honor those who lost their lives on 9/11?
So my question for you is, how do you, or how will you honor those who lost their lives that gorgeous fall day? What will you add to your life that will also add to the lives of those around you? What are you called to do? What voice has been whispering in your ear that you should be listening to?
In my opinion, it need not be some huge commitment to volunteer at a local charity (though that’s not a bad idea!), but can simply be the way we choose to focus our energies and time. Need a concrete example? For me, it means not obsessing over the fact that I have too many tasks of daily life to take care of, and just live in the moment more often. The dirty laundry, dust bunnies and paperwork will always be there. But my girls, now 9 and 4, will not. They won’t always be begging me to read just one more book to them, to take a walk together, or swing them on the swing set in our backyard. THOSE are the moments I need to make sure I make time for. Many of the survivors whose stories were told in “Life Is Too Short” changed their lifestyles after 9/11 by slowing down, not chasing the almighty dollar, and refocusing on family. Many of us not directly affected by the 9/11 attacks did the same. But did we maintain that focus long-term? I know lots of families who are so busy running from one activity to the next, they can’t see straight. Many haven’t even had time to gather around the family dinner table for days at a time.
Beyond what we can do for our nuclear families, there are too many opportunities out there to help others for me to even mention in this post. Again it doesn’t need to be complex. Really, it’s as simple as extending a hand to someone in need, getting to know someone new or different from yourself, or being more tolerant of each other. In my opinion, there is far too much anger and indifference in this great nation of ours. What we need is more understanding, more compassion, more willingness to hear one another out and find our common ground.
In “Life is Too Short” Lee Ielpi, President of the September 11th Families’ Association, who lost his firefighter son that day, and who himself served as a firefighter at Ground Zero said it best: ” We have all been profoundly changed by the attacks of September 11, and many of us in our own way have tried to make tomorrow a little bit better for someone else…What better way to show the world that the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, have only strengthened our resolve than to make tomorrow a better place for our children and all the children of the world?”
To that, I say “Amen!”