Nine years ago today, the World Trade Center towers fell in New York, and the whole world stopped to watch and listen. Nine years. It seems both far away and as close as yesterday. I’m sure for the rest of my life it’ll be one of those days I’ll never forget, a scared college freshman watching the world crumble on TV.

I don’t have to tell you where it led: to wars, to fear, to prejudice and bitterness. Throw out the words “Ground Zero” now, and you’re likely to find Mosque on the other side of it, and hear about the protests and anger surrounding it.

But I remember that day differently. I remember that there was something solemn and sad, but something hopeful too. With every person found alive, with every story of strangers offering kindness and grace… even the horrible Central Florida traffic seemed tamer in the days that followed. Maybe it was fear. Maybe it was that sudden realization that life is so short.

I like to think it was hope.

You may remember my blogger friend Sarah Cunningham and the discussion about her book Picking Dandelions here. Sarah’s story of this day took her to Ground Zero with a relief crew, and in her book she describes the experience. She approached me a few days ago with an invitation to join fellow bloggers in sharing a more positive message of goodwill to New York today so we can step back and remember… and hope.

Here’s an excerpt from Picking Dandelions that describes her time there:

The typical buzz of New York’s streets had been replaced by the steady crank of machinery and generators—a rumble that we adapted to surprisingly quickly, like the tick of a clock you didn’t even hear in the background.

Nothing was as it was just a few days before.

Any other day, for example, this much chaos and effort would’ve signified some sort of city festival. Now, a street fair of blue and white tarped tents lined the sidewalks to serve as a makeshift town, ready to shelter the nearby relief workers with food and services. The ground that would’ve normally been kept clear by city sanitation workers, if not for an occasional stray leaf or piece of litter, was dusted with a thin coating of shredded paper and glass particles, as if a local Office Max had been incinerated and its contents dumped on the scene like unwelcome confetti.

…Standing there in soaked rain gear, shivering, my voice jumbled through a weighty mask, I had some of the most compelling conversations of my life with people who became close friends out of necessity rather than through years of passing each other in the hallway each day…

…I could not believe that in this unlikely patch of ground, what was growing reminded me so much of Eden. ~Excerpt from Part IV of Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds

Today, it’s my hope that for just a little while, we’ll stop and listen and remember… but not for the sake of hate and politics and bitterness. May we never forget the way we looked for healing then, and how we came together in longing to see hope come from the broken earth.

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Starting September 13th, the e-book version of Picking Dandelions will be available for free on Amazon, and Zondervan will be offering the paper back version here
(just enter Promo code “980763”). Also, be sure to check out Sarah’s blog post “Beyond the Rubble,” a beautiful reflection on 9/11.

Photo by Cheryl Vanstane

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