The sky didn't fall
Published: September 11, 2010
A page from my journal:
“I watch my children waiting at the end of the driveway in their new school clothes, carrying matching backpacks and lunch boxes. They are talking and laughing together. A big yellow school bus pulls up, lights flashing and sun glinting off the windows.
The kids give me a last wave and climb up. The bus driver also waves to me, and I wonder if she envies me, standing on my porch in my jammies, a cup of coffee in hand as she drives away with forty kids in tow. “She should,” I think, as I walk back into the kitchen for a refill … then I head for our study.
One wall is lined with books, and a wing back chair is by the window. I sink into it with a sigh of contentment. My youngest is still upstairs snoozing, at least for a little while. This is the most peaceful time of the whole day.
I used to dream about having a room and chair exactly like this, a life exactly like this.
I enjoy these blessings, but I remember every day that they are not the necessities of life. Our family has been content in less idyllic circumstances. Life is full of change. Life is change. We will get a new assignment in a couple of years. The kids – and I hate to think of this – will grow up. Next year all three will get on that big yellow bus, and I don’t think I’ll like that much.”
I ended the entry by writing a prayer, as I sometimes do:
“Lord, even when the circumstances of my life seem to good to be true, help me to look only to you. I know that my joy doesn’t come from these things, but from the hope I have in you … Your ways are higher than my ways, as high as the heavens are above the earth.”
When I closed my journal it was about 8 o’clock on a sunny Tuesday morning – Sept. 11, 2001.
I didn’t see the news until later. After watching television footage of smoke rising from the Pentagon, the Flight 93 crash site and images of the Twin Towers falling over and over, I had to get outside.
Standing in my front yard, I looked up at the perfectly clear blue sky and wondered how it could remain so beautiful. Birds were still singing. Didn’t they know our world had been terribly changed?
My children are all teenagers now. They don’t remember much about life before that bright and sunny, but terrible Tuesday, when terrorism, war and deployment became household words for us.
What should we remember nine years later? We’ll remember the thousands who died that day and the thousands of U.S. military men and women who have sacrificed their lives since then. As a country, even as military families, we can’t help but wonder whether their sacrifices can bring another kind of change to the world. We hope and pray.
I will remember how the landscape of our lives changed in an instant – while some things, like the sky remained the same. In news footage, huge billows of smoke from the shattered World Trade Center show up against a backdrop of intense azure, sometimes obscuring but not changing it.
As I write today, it’s another beautiful September morning. Birds are singing. The sky is a clear, beautiful blue. I don't know what this or any day holds. It’s a good day to remember things that cannot change.
Your ways are higher than my ways, as high as the heavens are above the earth.