On this, the twelfth anniversary of the events of 9/11, I’m recalling the sights, sounds and stomach-twisting feelings of the day.
The first question we all asked (when we were finally clearheaded enough to ask questions) was, "Why?" The second question we asked – even the most devout and tenaciously believing among us – was, "Where was God?"
For now I’ll leave the "why" question to philosophers, sociologists and foreign relations experts. But as for the second question, I saw God that day. And most of you did too.
Here are just a few of the places where I saw God:
I saw God in men and women, digging in the ruins, looking for life beneath tons of steel and concrete, amid suffocating clouds of acrid dust.
I saw God in over 250 police officers and firefighters who gave their lives fighting to rescue countless others from the burning, crumbling skyscrapers.
I saw God within the crowds of people who stood near recovery workers for the sole purpose of encouraging them and shouting appreciation for their gut-wrenching work.
I saw God in a plane near Pittsburgh, in the hearts of a few courageous men who were determined not to end their lives by taking the lives of others.
I saw God in the hearts of those who tenaciously remained (and sacrificially died) at their post in the Pentagon, trying to sort out the chaos to protect the rest of us.
I saw God in the lines of people, several city blocks long, waiting hours to give blood.
I saw God restaurant cooks continually handing out sandwiches and coffee to exhausted rescuers.
I saw God in the hearts of friends and family tenderly caring for children whose parents never came home.
I saw God under the rubble, alongside the very few who survived, who prayed every moment they'd see daylight again.
I saw God, swifter than lightening, rushing to the souls of those whose lives were taken, to carry them over from terror to comfort. From nightmare to peace.
And later we heard of countless heroic actions, moments of brave tenderness, with those who are no longer here. In those moments too, I see God.
September 11, 2013