Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reflections on 9/11: Bringing hope and life in times of trial

The Rev. Dr. Caro Hall
President, Integrity USA

I was late for my first day of chaplaincy training, lost in Pasadena. Huntington Hospital was a maze of corridors and elevators, all as strangely quiet as the streets had been. I rushed into the chaplain’s room full of apologies to find myself almost totally ignored. Everyone was silently glued to a television showing a plane flying into a building.

It took several minutes to understand that this was reality, not fiction.

It took much longer for the full impact to hit me. But that day as a newbie chaplain, my job was to be there for anyone who needed a listening ear as the hospital went into lock-down mode, preparing to respond to an attack on Los Angeles. An attack which, thank, God, did not happen.

Last week I had an email from the diocese, asking parishes to prepare to be able to respond to local disaster. I admit that I groaned - another project, when just doing the work immediately at hand seems to take all our energy and more. Yet two miles over the hill is a nuclear power plant, two miles down the road is the ocean, and wildfire is an ever-present hazard. There are disasters waiting to happen. What better way to show the incredible love of God than to be prepared to act, and to pray that we are kept from the time of trial so our preparation is never needed.

Who knows when we may be called upon not just for support in personal disaster, but for a community in need. Parishes on the East Coast know at great cost what it is to have disaster hit suddenly and destroy homes and lives overnight.

One of the images which has stayed with me for the last ten years and resonates in my soul was articulated by Garrison Keillor. As the people were rushing down the stairs to get out of the towers, the firefighters were going up. They did not know what they were going to find, they did not know what would happen, but they were going into danger to find, protect and shelter others.

That is courage.

As people of faith we have the knowledge that God’s unconditional love supports us every moment and that nothing can separate us from that life-giving love. Whether we live or die, we are in Christ. This gives us the courage to walk into the not-knowingness of the future, the possibility of disaster, the certainty of pain and loss, without fear. It enables us to be there for others who do not have the rock of ages on which to stand.

May ours be the feet which are going up, bringing hope and life, when others are running down.

No comments: