Saturday, May 27, 2017

9/11 Remembered

Why today, you may ask? No special reason. This isn't September 11th, it's not an anniversary or a day for remembrance. But it is Memorial Day Weekend. And thanks to a post by my cousin, Eric, I find myself enthralled, and horrified all over again, by the images of 9/11. Eric posted this article from the New York CBS station yesterday morning. I only saw it this morning in my Facebook newsfeed. It led me into 3 hours of watching TV coverage of that fateful day in 2001.

On the tenth anniversary, I dedicated two blog posts--Nine-Eleven (9/9/11) and Never Forget (9/10/11)--to commemorate the melancholy of such tragedy and senseless loss. It was all so surreal, the television coverage that morning, the feeling that we were under a coordinated terrorist attack and the way it hit home because I worked across the street from the State Capitol and the President's brother. Watching it this morning, including the 1-hour, 58-minute uncut footage from New York's NBC4, brought it all back so vividly despite the fact that nearly 16 years have passed since it happened.

Sixteen years ago, on that day, I'd only had my first child for a couple of weeks. She had turned two months old that very day, but we got her at 6-weeks. She's adopted. I was at work in the Claude Pepper Building in downtown Tallahassee, just starting my day with Legislative Services. It must have been around 9:00 that I began watching live coverage on MSNBC from my desktop in my cubicle. I remember a couple of coworkers watching over my shoulder in horrified disbelief, or they may have been in the cubicle opposite mine, but I remember their reactions either way.

I took an early break to get to where I could watch live coverage on the televisions in the mall food court, a safe distance from the Capitol complex. I received the call not to come back to the office, as it had been shut down and evacuated. There was no immediate threat, but panic had stricken the nation and no less so the home of Governor Jeb Bush. I went home early that day and was glued to CNN and MSNBC. I'll never forget the images that day of the twin towers burning, of the second plane careening into the WTC-South Tower, of the towers falling one at a time, of the enormous dust cloud that enveloped all of lower Manhattan and the ghosts that emerged from it covering their mouths, their faces. Like I said, it was all so surreal, like nothing I'd ever seen before.

Watching the news footage on YouTube this morning brought all the feelings back so vividly that I had to write about it. I created the image at the top of this post as a memorial. I figured what better way to honor those who were killed in cold blood by enemies of the State than with a tribute on Memorial Day Weekend. This spontaneous post is dedicated to all the men and women who died that day, 9/11/01, on commercial airliners, in the World Trade Center, in the line of duty and at the Pentagon. It is also dedicated to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who sacrificed all in the months and years that followed. As the image above suggests, may we never, ever forget.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Last Sunday, I checked in at GoodSam on Facebook with a status, "Being church with Makenna." That's my youngest daughter and the reason I am even in church. But that status stuck with me all week. So when I was asked to write a blurb for this week's e-Newsletter, I titled it "Being Church, Clothing Christ" because we were seeking donations of kids' clothes for a widowed mother of two. It warmed my heart that the congregation I now call family wanted to help this woman in our community who is not a member. I don't know if this woman even goes to church, but she works at a grocery store nearby. Sunday, they are giving me a Mother's Day Card to present to her with a check to help with her financial burdens, now that she is a single mother. What an awful thing for her to spend this Mother's Day with two grieving children, as she herself grieves the loss of their father. But what a blessing to be a conduit of God's love, grace and mercy, through my church family.

Beyond the warm feelings I got when the church offered to help and asked me to be the messenger, I was inspired and awed by the universal truth that we are, indeed, God's hands and feet at work in the world. In reality, that's what "being church" means. We are to be the conduits that carry the essence (call it Holy Spirit, if you will) of God into our homes and communities. That should cause you to stop and reflect, as it has me all this week.

It doesn't matter your level or brand of faith. The church building where you spend your Sundays (or whatever day you worship) is of very little importance. It's the congregation of people, each individual member of "the Body," that makes us Church...and that's a capital "C" for the universal congregation of believers.

For those of us who chose to label ourselves "Christian," WE, as the spiritual descendants of Peter, are that Church built upon the rock. In fact, Peter's name literally means "rock" (Look up Petra in the Greek). WE are Church. So being Church takes on so much more of a personal flavor. There is a lot of personal responsibility to being Church. It means doing something; being something; being different.

There are a lot of people that GO to church; but sadly, it seems very few of them know how to BE.

I was one of those "goers" for a very long time, but then I fell out of practice. I stopped going. I became very jaded, cynical and lost my identity as Church, for awhile. I gradually came back to the "being" but I still wouldn't darken the door of a church building because of all the contempt built up in my heart.

It wasn't until my mom was dying of cancer that the return to "being" was completed.

She was diagnosed in early Summer 2014. Within 17 months, cancer that started in her breast had metastasized and was ravaging her 66-year-old body. She chose quality of life over quantity and enjoyed her children and grandchildren, even a great-grandchild, for that last year and a half. I was blessed to be able to spend Summer 2015 with her in Noblesville, IN. I took three trips up to see her in 2015, the last was over Thanksgiving Weekend. She died that Sunday as I was just about to come home.

Mom's dying wish was to see me and my girls back in church. We hadn't gone regularly since my youngest was born. So to honor Mom's wish, I invited my girls to church and picked the one closest to their home because it had a cool name, Good Samaritan. I didn't care that it was United Methodist, just that it had a good reputation in the community and it was closeby...walking distance, even.

In the last year and four months at that church, minus the Summer 2016 which I spent with my widowed father in Indiana, I've seen myself fully return to "being Church." My cynicism and jadedness has faded and is being replaced with hopefulness and peace. I feel that I'm part of a family of like-minded believers, again; people that aren't just there to go through the motions or talk a good spiritual game. I joined a home group of these people who took me in, fed me (in more ways than one) and have become solid friends. I've seen this family serve together, play together, let their hair down, but get serious when a need arose. They are real. I call GoodSam the church of misfit toys. But that's just what the apostles were, too. Jesus didn't hang out with the politicians, the polished, the church leaders. I feel like today, he'd be found in the pubs, pool halls and hooka bars.

I know that Mom is in heaven smiling down on me this Mother's Day Weekend. I kept my promise. My daughter was baptized in the church last year. We aren't faithful attenders, but we are getting better at being Church on a daily basis. And that's the point, isn't it?