Tag Archives: 9/11

9/11: The strange places a decade will take you

I don’t know what it is, but I really haven’t felt like writing lately.  Maybe it’s been the drive, the push to the launching of our weekly services at Forest City.  Maybe it’s been my dutiful filling up with Chemistry, Statistics and Biology.  Maybe it’s been the nice weather beckoning us outside for walks around the ‘hood.  Regardless the reason, this past weekend was cause for much reflection, as I’m sure it was for many Americans. It was doubly unique for us, I guess, because September 11 was also our launch day.  I thought I’d take a moment and reflect on two 9/11’s ten years apart.

It’s hard to believe that on September 11, 2001, I was a 17 year-old wide-eyed freshman at Kentucky Christian (College).  I had woken up as normal to attend Music Theory I, which started at 9:00 am.  When class was over, we made our way downstairs to the chapel because it was one of the two days per week that we had chapel at 10:00 am.  There was this tension in the air, and people were whispering back an forth.  The campus minister, Brad?, got up and addressed everyone as to what was taking place.  At first he told everyone that planes were running into buildings in NYC, and the death estimate at that time was 100,000.  Obviously a gross overstatement, but perhaps that is what it felt like to people hearing it for the first time.  Shock.  Fear.  Confusion.  I don’t remember exactly what we did during the next 50 minutes of chapel, but I know that we prayed.  A lot.

We all raced back to our dorms to turn on the TV and see what was happening.  It was unbelievable, to say the least.  When was finally over the initial shock, I started to think about various things.  I thought about my parents.  My mom was working in downtown Cleveland at the time and my dad worked a stone’s throw from the Cleveland airport.  I frantically called and was relieved to know that nothing had happened, but they were sent back home as a safety measure after it happened.  I remember my dad telling me about fighter jets circling Cleveland, and every other major city for that matter.  The only times I had ever seen planes against the backdrop of the Cleveland skyline was during the annual Labor day airshow.  But this was no entertainment.  I thought one of my best friends from high school, Josh, who was completing his training as an Army Ranger.  What would happen?  Would we go to war?  Would he be deployed?  Turns out the answers were yes and yes, but we knew nothing at the time.  I can still go back to that night, lying in my bunk, wondering how the world would be different.  The next morning, though, provided my most vivid memory of that weekend…

After barely waking, a few of us went to McDonald’s the next morning to grab some coffee and something to eat.  The TVs were all on, with continuing coverage of the terror in New York.  I was standing in line watching the TV, and there were some older gentlemen sitting at a table watching as well.  They had finished, and one of the older Kentucky gentlemen started to get up and announced words that I can still hear ringing in my ear to this day: “Welp, them damn Yankees deserved this anyway…”

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I woke up early on September 11, 2011, excited, nervous, anxious.  I was about to head down to the Shaker Square Cinema in Cleveland, where we were about to launch our first weekly service for Forest City Church, the second church I have helped start on Cleveland’s east side.  My short, quiet, dark drive to theater from my house afforded me precious moments to think and reflect about where I am at 10 years after the day I described above.

Married.  2 beautiful daughters.  I’ve moved 6 times since then, from Canton, back to Kentucky, home to Mentor, to Illinois (twice), back to Mentor, and then here to South Euclid.  I’ve finished my bachelor’s, a masters, and am going back to school.  We’ve been a part of two amazing church plants in the city that I love.

I was sitting in a theater chair during DC’s message on Sunday, and I wondered what I would have thought on September 11, 2001, if you had told me that 10 years from now I’d be sitting in a theater in Cleveland with my family, giving our lives to see a city transformed.  Renewed.  Restored.  I thought again about the image of fighter jets circling the skyline.  Not for an airshow, but for protection.  Lots has changed since 9/11/2001.  I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I see a commercial airliner cross behind the Cleveland skyline.

Many people cringed over the last several months when I told them that we were launching on September 11.  I understood, but at the same time I thought it was perfect.  What better day to let a new light shine in a dark place.  9/11 conjures up feelings of hoplessness that we all felt as we felt vulnerable, and as the stock markets crashed to historic lows.  And here we were, 10 years later, declaring that hope was available to the hopeless.  That God is in the business of restoring and redeeming a city.

I want to end this by sharing some lyrics to the song that we sang after DC’s message on Sunday.  I think the words convey what we all want, and what we are all after.  We made this our prayer in a little theater on the eastern edge of the city of Cleveland on Sunday.  A ragtag group imagining a world/nation/city/life restored.  9/11 for me, now 10 years later, represents two things: a tragedy, and an awakening.

Awakening
Songwriters: Morgan, Reuben Timothy; Tomlin, Christopher D;

In our hearts, Lord, in this nation
Awakening
Holy Spirit, we desire
Awakening

For You and You alone
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done, let Your will be done in me

In Your presence, in Your power
Awakening
For this moment, for this hour
Awakening

For You and You alone
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done, let Your will be done in me

For You and You alone
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done, let Your will be done in me

Like the rising sun that shines
From the darkness comes a light
I hear Your voice and this is my
Awakening

Like the rising sun that shines
From the darkness comes a light
I hear Your voice and this is my
Awakening

Like the rising sun that shines
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
From the darkness comes a light
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing

Like the rising sun that shines
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
Only You can raise a life
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing

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