It has been ten years already since the day we all changed. Although, I did not know anyone personally who died that eventful day, like most Americans, I was deeply affected and changed by the events of 9/11 and of those that followed.
I was at work when the attacks began. I remember finding out and then closing the office. I remember going out onto the city streets in Lancaster where everything was hushed. I remember the faces of those I passed on the way to my car. I stopped for cash from the ATM. I got home to find that my husband had not yet heard. He quickly turned on the TV.
It was then that the horrific images and sounds entered and became eternally etched in my mind. I got home after the Pentagon was hit but before the plane went down in Shanksville. I remember how numb I was at first. Then appalled, then frightened, and then my sense of security was shaken to its foundations. I am blessed that my faith never wavered, although I will confess to crying out to God many times: WHY?
Later that day, I was outside and again noted how quiet it was. It was then that it hit me: there were no planes, no contrails, limited movement on the highway. It was a very spooky feeling. After a bit I picked up a distant sound and just that quick an F14 went streaking by. That truly scared me. He was low and fast. I could feel the power of that jet in my chest. As the afternoon blended into twilight they crisscrossed the sky. With TMI only a small distance away, they were patrolling.
To this day, the ensuing days of quiet skies, interrupted periodically by fighter jets, haunt me. If I see a big plane lower than they usually are, a small plane flying in an odd pattern, or a jet flashing by, my heart skips a beat. And, I wonder. I wonder what might be going on in those planes. For the briefest of moments, I feel the fear try to raise its head. I always say a prayer for them and for me.
I think what happened that day infected us all. It infected us with an ugly virus called fear and violence. Our culture has changed dramatically. I think fear has invaded our collective psyches and we express it in ways that are not always healthy. In many areas of life, people have become isolated whether to protect themselves from additional pain or because they rely too much on technology to stay in contact with others.
Something has changed. Civility took as big a hit as security did that day. At first, we all pulled together but as time progressed, we splintered as a people. We Americans have few common rally points anymore. Often there is a jump to finger-pointing, blame-finding, clique or mob mentalities, and settling disagreements with vitriol and violence. This is very evident in our political leaders who do not seem to be able to work together at all any more. It seems that people have forgotten how to truly listen to each other, respect those who have different opinions, and be willing to compromise for the higher good.
On the other side of that are the people who were forever changed in a different way. The ones who were rattled out of complacency. The ones who began to explore the more important questions in life. The ones who looked for purpose and meaning.
I have been moved to grow and develop. My spiritual journey these past ten years has led me to places where I can say I am a better person than I was before 9/11. I am certainly more focused, more mature, more spiritually aware.
I want to help dispel the darkness and fear, if only for a moment. I want to help others on their spiritual paths. I want to add Light to the world. I want to be part of the healing. I want to be part of helping the Light overcome the darkness.
Things will not return to where they were on 9/10/01; too much was changed by those senseless acts of inhumanity. I do believe however that we can all grow and move to a place of higher purpose if we choose to.
I think about 9/11 frequently. It challenges me. It calls me. It requires something of me. Does it of you?
Healing Blessings to all.
WE ARE WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO. EXCELLENCE, THEN, IS NOT AN ACT, BUT A HABIT. ~ Aristotle
This is one of my favorite quotes. It does periodically get me to examine habits of all sorts. And excellence may not always mean that the habit is excellent, does it?
For example: I know whiners extraordinaire. I was in their ranks once and believe that through practicing silence and empathy a bit more, my whining is no longer excellent – it can still be considered good at times though, so I am working toward bringing that all the way down to poor.
I know gossipers extraordinaire also. Oh my, can they be energy drainers! I am not talking about the folks who pass along information on others. I am talking the ones who can’t do anything but spit out venom about others whether it is true or not. You get to hear every gritty detail, made-up or real, that you never wanted to know in the first place. Even as you are excusing yourself from their presence they are saying, “yeah, but….” These folks don’t seem to be able to help themselves. It is a shame this is a habit they have honed so well. I pray that they begin to practice compassion and love instead.
Or how about screamers? Some screamers can get a volume on to wake the dead. Yes, truly, the neighborhood heard you the first 20 times. Geesh – you all need to develop the habit of using your indoor voices. Okay, the indoor voice you should be using.
OOOOO my nemesis. The habit of nail biting. EEK I can take that to the heights of excellent destruction. I have made great strides but it still raises its ugly head from time to time. My nails will never be normal because of it.
It is much the same as other habits that are destructive to our bodies and to those around us – over eating, smoking, drinking to excess, promiscuity, etc. Somehow it isn’t just the addictive quality behind them, because there is that for sure. But the habit of the repetition and its feeling that fills whatever void seems to need filling is just as hard.
Are any of you in the habit of cursing the other drivers on the road? I am not talking about the guy who truly is driving nuts; they really deserve a groan or two. I usually say a prayer they get to where they are going safely without hurting anyone else (Uh, sometimes after a not so nice remark. I am working on it, okay? J ). But how about the one that is driving the speed limit instead of 10 miles over? Or the one who hasn’t turned left across moving traffic because she knows her car is not as fast as the Roadrunner and can’t possibly make it safely through that particular hole? Or the one who stops for the pedestrian in the crosswalk that might hold you up 25 seconds? Okay, I’ll raise my hand. I have been known to do this on a bad day. Years ago I spent my whole commute doing it. What a waste of energy! But I am pleased to say I have dropped this one from excellent down to slightly better than poor. I can now look at my own driving decisions and see how others may have had to make similar ones. That helps.
If we really look at this quote as I think it was intended, it actually means to strive for excellence in those things that bring Light and betterment to the world. That is a tall order. It means that each day we should strive for actively practicing the habits of gratitude, fun, love, compassion, honesty, humility, peace, understanding, quietude, joy, companionship, thoughtfulness, random acts of kindness, honor, integrity, moderation in all things, faith, hope – my the list gets long, doesn’t it? With so much to practice, there shouldn’t be any time to get good at bad habits.
How do we get to practice these habits of Light? First we have to set our intention to do what is right and good for the highest good of all. We ought to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. We need to ask for guidance from Spirit. We need to read and digest those texts that speak to our spiritual journey. We should establish the discipline of daily prayer and meditation in whatever form that takes. We must accept the fact that we are human and although we can excel at many things, sometimes we do excel at habits which aren’t always life affirming. In that acceptance, we need to understand that we are works in progress. When we fall, we get back up. When we err, we endeavor to right. When we hurt, we begin to heal.
Above all, we need to develop the excellent habit of being gentle with ourselves. Imagine developing that habit - just loving ourselves as the unique beings that we are, warts and all. Develop the habit of knowing we can develop new habits of Light and love; of knowing that each moment we can make a small change of direction into new life-affirming habits. Can you see not only how that would improve our own lives but also how that will ripple out to others?
Ahhh – we are what we repeatedly do. And what are you doing today?
I was re-reading the book The Spark, by Chris Downie. In the introduction he related the story of an elephant tied as a young animal to a tether which he could not break. As he grew the tether got stronger until the elephant finally stopped fighting because he knew he'd never break this bond. In time, a two-ton animal can be held by a thin rope becasue they 'learned' they can't get free.
This an old but profound illustration about how we too can be forced into submission and/or unhealthy lifestyles without even being aware of it. What an appropriate story to open this book. It is a reminder for us to wake up - look at the tethers holding us - and realizing - " I can break this tether. Nothing can hold me back!"
Such an empowering thought. And such a profound reality that, with some acceptance, we realize we are inherently stronger than anything trying to hold us fast. We can accomplish our goals whatever they might be.
Each time I feel held back, I try to remember to look down at my ankle, see a tether, and snap free of it. That is a strong visual for me and perhaps it may help you as well.
As a 'healer', if I recognize another 'elephant' being held back needlessly, I endeavor to help them break their tether too. Do you have any tethers holding you back? Check your ankle; it is probably only a small tether holding you in place.