Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Anniversaries

Six years ago I was in a new pastorate inside the Beltway. I was walking through our decrepid building with our property committee chair feeling overwhelmed by all the repairs needed on it when news starting coming in. By mid-morning people were stopping in to pray. By mid-afternoon shell-shocked neighbors were walking home from their capitol hill jobs-- the metro system having been shut down, the evacuation routes jammed with cars-- making the long walk through the city to the Maryland suburbs in stunned silence. I remember the eerie silence broken by the mad rushing of military planes and helicopters flying over and over and over the skies. I will never forget that week.

One hundred and one years ago a young Indian lawyer in South Africa led his first non-violent civic action, fighting against discrimination in that land. Gandhi went on to be the last century's leading proponent of non-violence.

Two anniversaries on the same day. Violence. Non-violence.

"I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, that you and your descendents may live."

18 comments:

mompriest said...

OMG - I have not put those two together in the same day in history (even if they are years apart)...

lj said...

I first heard this juxtaposition last year -- on the 100th anniversary of the Gandhi action, which was the 5th anniversary of the attack. I found it startling and life-affirming.

Jan said...

Thank you for putting these two events together. Gives me more hope. Also, thanks for coming by and looking at the Nan Merrill post at my blog.

pj said...

I almost made it through today without talking to anyone about 9/11, even though I spent half the day in the bowels of Manhattan and Brooklyn. But when my class broke up tonight, we talked about it. I wish I'd known about the Ghandi anniversary; I would have mentioned it.

Diane said...

Wow, thank you for putting these two events together for me...speaks volumes.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Oh, LJ, PJ, both of you, those must have been terrible days.

Beautiful quote at the end.

pj said...

Oh no Grandmère Mimi, I spent YESTERDAY in NYC. I spent 9/11/01 sitting with my son (2 months old at the time) watching TV and feeling "survivor's guilt," because I'd been working in the city up until May of that year.

Didn't mean to be misleading.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

LJ--I was living in the Maryland suburbs that day. I remember wondering if the world was coming to an end, because we kept getting news reports of gunshots and bomb blasts in downtown DC (they turned out to be false, but no one was sure of anything that day).

And then the next year, we had the snipers, who shot and killed a woman outside the post office I had taken my little boy into the day before.

All that is *almost* enough to make me believe in Original Sin...

lj said...

Doxy! We were closer neighbors then than we are now! I was in the sniper's neighborhood, too. I didn't get too anxious all through those early months of red alerts and the ever-present military planes flying over my patio, not through the anthrax, but when the sniper starting taking out people near where I bought gas, where my son went to pre-school, where we rode bikes and played in the parks -- I was a basket case. What a year that was! Were you in Silver Spring? Were you worshiping among the Piskies then? I attended Ascension in SS for a while when I left my congregation.

lj said...

PJ, I think anyone who lived in commuting distance was especially traumatized that day because we knew people in the area and we knew we might have been there. Survivor's guilt is tough, too.

Jane R said...

Thank you for putting together those two events... I knew the Gandhi story but not the date. What a coincidence.

There is also the Chilean September 11, which was in 1973. That was the day democracy died in Chile. So it has long been a day of remembrance for Chileans and for others, especially other Latin Americans, who remember the advent of Pinochet's brutal dictatorship and the end of the Allende government.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I was a member at Ascension in SS from 1998 until I moved to North Carolina in 2004! How did we not know each other?!

lj said...

Jane,
Thanks for the addition of another important meaning to this date.

Doxy, I didn't start attending Ascension until after I left my church in late 2004 and then I was a back-row pew-sitter, only there occasionally when I wasn't preaching/teaching elsewhere or attending Quaker meeting with the rest of my family.

Where did you live???

Wormwood's Doxy said...

When we first moved to SS, we rented a house on 1st Ave.---which is how I got hooked up with Ascension. Then we moved to Olney---and for 5 years, I drove down, because St. John's was just too lily-white and conservative for me. ;-)

I left in July 2004, so that explains that. The funny thing is that the woman who took your place at your old church was a former member of Ascension and my spiritual director for several years! Small world...

eileen said...

The world can be such a small place! Funny you two living so close together.

PJ - My daughter was 5 mos old that September.

I'll never forget what a gorgeous day it was - perfect weather on such a terrible day.

pj said...

Crazy. My brother had worked in the North Tower up until spring of that year, until his firm moved him uptown. Fortunately all of his colleagues got out. My friend's brother worked for Cantor-Fitzgerald. He died. Two of my friends worked in a nearby building. I'm not sure how they got home that day but they were completely traumatized for a long time. Another friend watched the whole thing from his son's elementary school in Brooklyn, and went home covered in dust. The people I worked with on Madison &26th had to walk up to the Bronx to get home to NJ. For the most part, I feel like we all got off pretty lightly. There were funerals up here in Westchester for months.

I wanted more than anything to get downtown and volunteer, but my son was so little and I was completely freaked out.

Yikes. Sorry to be a downer. It just seems like we have to keep recounting that day until it makes sense, which it never will.

lj said...

wow, pj. those are some intense encounters. Since the civil war, there has been so little fighting on US soil that these moments in time (pearl harbor, 9/11)when we experience what others in the world have experienced more often are huge in our history. Can you imagine what it would have been like to live through WWII in London or so many other cities in Europe that experienced extensive bombing? I think about that with Iraq now. How terrified I was during the sniper attacks and how the mothers there must feel that every day now. It's almost unimaginable.

pj said...

Actually, it was thinking about London during the Blitz that made me able to suck up the fear a bit. (But I feel that if we'd had any real leadership in the wake of the attacks, AND the anthrax, AND the snipers, we wouldn't have been so shit-scared.)

And of course now I realize that every day is 9/11 somewhere in the world, and what's worse, it always has been.

Fun thoughts for a Saturday night. I was supposed to go out, but I'm just too tired. It's kind of nice being home, actually. And it got all cool and crisp here today. I'm wearing long sleeves! Ah, the simple pleasures...