ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
It’s Tuesday morning and I’m standing in front of my bathroom mirror making the final adjustments to a hairstyle that isn’t willingly going into it’s proper place.
The radio playing in the adjoining bedroom brings to me the startling news that an airplane has just collided with the World Trade Center in New York City.
One of the DJs, who happens to be a pilot, starts to speculate as to how this accident might have occurred. I glance at the clock and see that it is time to head out the door for work. I give up on trying to make my hair look any better. This is just how it’s going to be.
As I pull out of my driveway, the news on the radio becomes grimmer. The plane, it is discovered, is a passenger jet. By the time I reach the school-a mere five minute drive-the reports have become not of a terrible accident, but of hijackings and terrorism.
I walk into the school with my head down, wondering if those who are already in the building and busy welcoming kids into their classrooms are aware of what is unfolding on the East Coast.
I go about my regular duties of helping kids with their schoolwork. In the halls, the adults quietly talk, keeping each other informed to the breaking news. Another plane hi-jacked, another plane crashed. The Pentagon, the second tower, a field in Pennsylvania. When will it stop? Who is to blame?
An annual school-evacuation drill that had been scheduled for the morning is canceled. Today is not the day to practice. At 11:30 a.m., I go home, grateful that we have a planned early dismissal that day. I’m anxious to see my kids and my husband.
By Wednesday, most of the facts are known. The numbers of dead will run into the thousands. The cost of rebuilding and cleanup will skyrocket into the billions. The toll on the American psyche is beyond estimation.
I go to school and the students want to talk. Some are scared. Some are confused. The school staff, including counselor Mike Moran, make a special effort to address what’s on their minds all the while continuing with the daily tasks of reading, writing and arithmetic.
And, even as the adults of our nation wrestle with the crisis of emergency, the children get on with their normal routine. This is just how it must be.
Wednesday quickly slips into Thursday and I find myself glued to the television set, staying up later than I should watching for the latest developments and listening to commentators from all over the political spectrum consider how our governmental leaders will respond to this savage hit against America.
One thing that strikes me is the phrase that many use over and over in their analysis of the situation. “This event has changed the world.” Has it? Has it really? It seems to me that there are parts of the world that live with this type of terror on a daily basis. Are we so arrogant, I wonder, to think that evil acts only warrant attention if the target of such ugliness is on American soil?
Of one thing I’m certain. Our response to the attacks on September 11th could, in every sense of the word, be the true events that “change the world.”
As I sit in front of my television, I weep for New York and the rest of our nation. I ache for the families of the lost. My heart swells with a mixture of pride and gratefulness as I see police officers, firefighters and emergency workers put their lives on the line in order to bring assistance and succor to those in need.
And, I pray for our leaders. I pray for the dead and those that still might be clinging to life in the rubble and for the families and friends they have left behind. I pray for those laboring to restore order. And I pray for the people of Afghanistan; for those innocents who are trapped in a country that has been taken over by a faction of zealots who have turned a peaceful religion into an abomination of itself.
I pray and I weep and I turn to God and ask why. This is just how it should be.
Friday comes and I know that it will be a busy day. I wish I could put off the tasks that await my attention and take part in a day set aside for mourning and remembrance.
At school, we observe a moment of silence in respect for those who have lost their lives.
At lunchtime, I’m able to catch a brief part of the memorial service held in the nation’s capitol.
But after work, I hit the ground running in preparation for the Arts & Crafts Fair. Keith, Meg, Alex and I meet with two other families to set up for the deli-style eatery that we had committed to long before America was plunged into panic, fear, and tragedy.
As we hang signs, package pasta salad into serving size cups and print up menus, we talk about the events of the week and the events to come.
We work on-talking and laughing, teasing and encouraging until the job of making ready is completed. And we speculate how the catastrophe on the East Coast might impact Hillsboro’s premier craft show. Will the crowds be down? Will our business suffer because of it? We couldn’t foretell just what it would be.
On Saturday, we come to town at 8 a.m. to start making food for the lunch crowd. By 8:15, we hear that the artisan selling American flags out of corrugated tin has sold out of stock. People shopping the stalls and vendors alike are decked out in red, white and blue or sporting the Stars and Stripes. Patriotism seems popular.
By Sunday, I’m exhausted by the week’s events. That afternoon, my son and I are in the living room listening to the tape of music he has been instructed to learn for Tabor College’s production of “The Music Man.” As an extra, he takes part in several “town scenes” where everyone breaks into song.
We’ve already gone through “The Wells Fargo Wagon” and “Iowa Stubborn” and now it’s time for Alex’s favorite song about how the new pool table in town is “trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool.”
The music starts and Professor Harold Hill starts to sing, “Oh, we’ve got trouble, right here in River City….” My mind doesn’t go to pool tables and knickerbockers buckled “below the knee,” but to guns and bombs, to war and destruction.
We’ve got trouble, all right.
Keith comes through the room and offers Alex a chance to go target shooting, something he’s keen on doing now that he’s going through a hunter-safety course. With his homework done, he’s allowed to follow his dad out the back door.
My throat tightens. Military attacks, desolation, my son armed with a gun. This is just how it could be.
I pray for discernment, I hope for resolution, I long for justice in a world gone awry.
Only God knows how this will all play out. What will be, will be.
* * *
“Come my Light, and illumine my darkness.
“Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
“Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
“Come, my Flame of Divine Love, and kindle my heart with the flame of your love.
“Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there.
“For you alone are my King and my Lord.”
-Saint Dimitrii of Rostov