I was shaving. Dallas, Texas. Tuesday. the 11th of September. 2001.
Running a bit late for work I turned on the news as I was getting ready. Both towers were in flames. There was speculation about other targets, buildings, fires, and planes.
They kept replaying the footage of the ‘explosions’ at the Towers. At moments not even sure they had been planes that hit the building. Everything was happening too fast. Live.
I picked up the pace. Then, as I watched, the South Tower fell.
At that moment the entire country experienced a collective moment of dissonance. disbelief. separation from self, reality.
for a moment, an entire nation failed to breathe. hearts skipped a beat. shock. adrenaline.
the world seemed to slow on it’s axis. coming to a halt.
for a moment.
then slowly speeding up again, we all tried to digest a lifetime’s worth of emotions in the space of single moment.
from that moment forward my memories of September 11th are less like a fluid sequence of actions and thoughts more like a staccato recollection of emotions. a machine gun like barrage of pictures loosely strung together with sounds and feelings.
the phone call to mom on the way to work to say i was ok. she was worried because i worked at a huge church in a large city. she wasn’t sure we wouldn’t be targeted.
a hastily formed meeting with pastors and media staff to plan for the crowds. we didn’t invite anyone but we instinctively knew they’d come. they did.
standing outside the building, earbud in place, watching all that entered. half security, half abandonment.
opening the sanctuary for prayer. choosing music. selections from michael w. smith’s freedom project. the title only now seems appropriate and sarcastic.
a mighty fortress is our god. a hymn. it seemed to fit the need of our soul.
a hastily edited video of stills from the war zone once known as new york city.
a stirring message from the only person, other than the president and the anchor, we wanted to hear from that day. our pastor.
crowds. crowds in church like no time before or since.
an openness. an openness to light. to darkness. to god. to hate.
an comfortable awareness that our souls were showing. an awareness that would only later become uncomfortable
patriotism. of the sort that had not been, and soon would not be, acceptable.
In 2003, I wrote this about that day:
“Two years ago today, everything changed. Early that morning the entire media department huddled in my boss’s office for prayer. At that time we didn’t know why the planes had hit the buildings… we weren’t even sure that more buildings weren’t soon to follow. Could Dallas be next? There were SO many unanswered questions, yet there was one thing we knew for certain: God was in control. The ensuing hours and days were long and arduous. We experienced great highs as thousands of unchurched seekers came through our doors. There were also tremendous lows as we cried alongside the hundreds of hurting people who stopped by the church hoping to find healing for emotional wounds.In crisis we cry out for a connection with our Creator. This September 11th, I hope that you will take a moment to remember that dark day. Many of those who filled our pews two years ago are still unchurched and destined for an eternity in hell. For Christians, 9/11 should not be an occasion for political maneuvering or “God and Country rallies”, it should instead push us toward inner spiritual revival and action.”
Where were you?
but more importantly… where are you now.