Sunday, September 9, 2012

9/11 - From grief to grace

I was teaching English at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, Florida when the towers fell. My heart sank when I received word from our security officer that the World Trade Center was struck again. I recalled the time in 1993 when the World Trade Center was first attacked and it never occurred to me that these mighty towers would crumble like my heart would that horrible day. The outcry was swift and brutal against those whom we believed to be behind this act of terrorism that killed over 3,000 people. The anger was understandable, but it often manifested itself in violent words and actions that victimized innocent people who happened to share a faith that was perverted by an evil few. Having returned home from the United States Air Force, where I served as a medic at Dover Air Force Base, the memories were also fresh of being part of the ceremony in which the bodies of those who perished in the attack on the U.S.S. Cole were repatriated to America. I also knew that, as a new Uniteens sponsor that I could do something to make a difference in how we reacted to this crisis. Through fate or Divine Order, our Uniteens group had a lock-in scheduled for that weekend. While our original purpose was to have fun, we faced a more solemn task when we gathered for our weekend sleepover. That weekend, we prayed and meditated over the tragedy that befell our world and we prayed and meditated over the world that we were responsible for co-creating with God. Moving forward, I challenged myself and our Uniteens to reach out in Spirit to find the common good in all. After that lock-in ended, I decided that I would incorporate ecumenical lessons into our curriculum. I found a book that was based on the HBO documentary, "How Do You Spell God?" I also purchased a copy of the video to share with the Uniteens. I felt that it was especially urgent to learn more about world religions and faiths because, when I was in junior high school, I held onto the belief that we were either Christians or we were nothing. It was simply how I was raised as a young Baptist before I joined Unity. This was no simple task, but I chose to make it engaging and joyful for our children. We created mandalas, we performed service projects and we connected with other Uniteens' groups in the spirit of the world that we wanted to see become a reality. I also decided to leave my own complacent comfort zone and attended Saturday meditation at our local Buddhist temple. I also attended synagogue in the San Jose area of Jacksonville - and attended my first Bar Mitzvah. These were the lessons and gifts that I wanted to use to ensure that over 3,000 people did not die in vain. Healing is not easy, but it was something that I felt that it was a task that we were all up to taking up as a cause for life. We can still observe 9/11 through enlightening ourselves to vanquish the darkness of ignorance and hatred. This is our call and this is our cause to ensure that future generations will never have a day like was had on that fateful Tuesday. Epilogue: This morning I attended Sunday morning worship service as usual, but was treated to something unusual. One of the Uniteens who attended our lock-in during that week in 2001 started volunteering in our Sunday school today. I am very proud of her for not only enriching her life through Unity, but serving a new generation of Unity students in a spirit of love and light!

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