On September 11, 2001, I was sitting on the bed in our master bedroom, with a sleeping 4 month-old on my chest, watching "The Today Show." Something had just crashed into the World Trade Center. A helicopter? they wondered. A missile, someone ominously suggested. An airplane, the reports began to say. And as I watched the coverage live, another plane descended into the television frame. "That's too low," I said. Matt Lauer basically said the same thing immediately after I did.
You know the rest of that story.
I had a lot of thoughts, most of them guided by the news coverage, which I could not pull myself away from.
I was a first-time dad four months into being a stay-at-home dad. Things got a little . .. disconcerting.
Is this the world I was bringing my baby up into?
Macy of course was oblivious. She was a baby. She ate, gurgled, slept, burped, pooped, wiggled around. I loved it when she stretched. Babyfatted arms up, those little fists, a bulldog puppy frown. Stretching babies are too adorable to care much about anything else at the moment.
And a curious thing happened. I tried my darndest to get sucked into the wake of 9/11. I cared deeply. I was glad the President I voted for was at the helm. He seemed suited for a moment like that. I'm sure many of my readers think the man a joke, or even evil. But W. has been good at two things, two things I find quite necessary in a President: threatening bad guys and comforting hurting people, and if you'll remember without the gloss of your politics or whatever you think of him now, I bet a reasonable person will remember he was a fine president in the wake of that attack.
But that's not how I gospel that tragedy.
To continue the curiosity of what happened, as I did my darndest to get sucked into 9/11 aftermath -- the news coverage, the memorial services, the political wrangling, the lead up to war (which I supported, albeit not cavalierly) -- and as my engagement with that stuff led to my obsessive engagement in the subsequent election in 2004, I almost forgot the promise I held in my hand on September 11, 2001.
As the buildings fell and people died, perhaps the darkest day our nation will ever know in the 21st century, I held my new baby. And while she herself is not the promise -- we're all frail creatures, and God has not promised my kids will live another day -- her new little life with all its potential, with more future than past, was a great reminder of what God does with tragedy, what he does with brokenness.
Jesus was not much more than a baby at the time when Herod was systematically killing babies. The days Mary and Joseph enjoyed the Savior of the Universe toddling around, thousands of parents were mourning the deaths of their children.
This doesn't mean we don't mourn, and it doesn't mean our dark days aren't dark. It just means we don't mourn as those who have no hope. It means that dark days call for dawn.
When I look back at events like 9/11 now, and there will likely be more such devastations, both national and personal, I remind myself of what lay ahead. And when I am for whatever reason compelled to look back at my sin, at the life I had and the things I did and the person I was before, I remind myself that I was dead, yes, but full of the promise of God's resurrecting beckon from the mouth of my tomb. When I look back now, with redemption-colored glasses, my past is only as dark as my future.
May the blessed hope color 9/11 for you.
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
-- Isaiah 9:1-2