I woke up to my alarm clock, the same clock radio that still sits beside my bed to this day twelve years later. The station was set to CJOB and I woke up to the morning news. My bed was against the north wall of my bedroom in my apartment I shared with a roommate on in a beautiful but aging brownstone building on Wolseley. The top story shocked me out of bed on a morning that I was going to sleep in as I was still on holidays after a summer at camp. A plane had just hit the World Trade Centre and casualties were expected. I ran across the wooden floor of my bedroom and into the hallway telling my roommate, who was just getting ready to leave for work what I had just heard. I turned on my small 12 inch tv sitting right beside the fireplace in the living room and began to watch CNN's live coverage. My roommate left for work and I continued to watch alone.
The news anchor was interviewing a man on the phone from the scene as replays live shots mixed with replays of the building showed on the screen when suddenly the man began screaming in horror. As the news anchor tried to calm him down the realization suddenly sunk in to I'm quite sure everyone watching along with the news anchor at the same time what had actually happened. The airplane that we had just witnessed flying through the shot was not a military aircraft flying by to offer protection. It had actually flown into the second building before our very eyes. Live on television. Engrained in my mind forever.
The memories then become a blur. This was when the shock wore off and the fear set in. First came a report that the Pentagon was on fire. Then that the White House was being evacuated. America was under attack and their primary buildings of power were being threatened. You must remember there was no twitter yet and the internet, though highly advanced from where it had been a few years before, was still primarily static images with very little video content. CNN was my news source and I was glued to it. I actually don't remember watching the first building collapse even though I know I did. It was a numb feeling of disbelief mixed in with a little bit of awe at the scope of the destruction. By the time the second building collapsed however the numbness had been replaced with a shattering understanding of what I was witnessing. I was watching thousands of people die before my eyes and as the building fell I was yelling at the tv, "No...... no no no....."
Fast forward a week or two... for the longest time the skies had been silent as all air traffic was grounded. I was in my parents backyard as I first heard a plane fly overhead and what had once been the most normal sound in the world was now the strangest and most foreboding. The world really had changed. Or had it? Has it now?
Here I sit 12 years later. My hair is thinning and lines are forming under my eyes. My formally completely uncoordinated body though more than a decade older now has a green belt in karate. I'm still at the same church but I've gone from missionary, lay preacher, and worship leader to Associate Pastor. Even in that role there have been changes over the last 4 years. Once again however I am working with youth and honestly my desk still has many of the same things on it that it did those 12 years ago. And as for the world? Yes, it definitely became less trusting that day. Flying anywhere became much more of a hassle - regulations on what could pack or carry on became more important than the ever had been. The uttering of anything in Arabic became aroused automatic fear and suspicion. Wars were fought and thousands lost their lives, many just as innocent as those on the planes that crashed into the towers. Yet here we are and some things haven't changed. The Taliban still controls more of Afghanistan than we'd ever like to admit and atrocities are committed every day. The Middle East is a power keg and the US and Russia are arguing what to do about it. Technology has changed of course, but really it's just allowed us to know the same things that little bit faster. There is nothing new under the sun....
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV.
His compassions are new every morning. This is why I can relive these memories and not give up hope. This is why I can look at a sad hurting world and remember that God is still in control and He has not turned His back on humanity. That is why I can look in the mirror and see that despite my sinful nature that cuts the the very heart of my soul He has forgiven me and purified me like a dazzling white robe, brighter than any bleach could produce. You see, I have another memory that goes much further back and remains with me like it was yesterday. It was the day that at 15 years old I welcomed Christ into my life..... I'll tell you the story if you ever want to hear it but it's much better in person, over coffee. :)