Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you...

I think we all remember where we were the moment the sky started falling. As for me? I was exactly where I'll be today,   I was at church.

Tuesday was the day of our women's Bible study. You would think that I could find the exact moment that I heard news,  jotted in a margin in the study of the day, but I can't.  By process of elimination, I have figured out that we were studying Beth Moore's Breaking Free. The exact words we were reading, I do not know.

Our group was so large back then that it was divided into three age appropriate groups for the discussion.  My sister and I were in one group; the Duchess was in another.  It was into this small group that the phone call came. One of our members, a woman named Ruth, was married to an army doctor. A frantic call from her mother-in-law  alerted us that a plane...or maybe two she thought... had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. She had just turned on the TV and was confused about the details.  So confused, in fact, that Ruth thought initially that the woman must be mistaken. Apparently, she was well known for making   mountains out of molehills. 

The next few minutes seemed almost surreal. She  hung up the phone, promising to call immediately after Bible study, and then...believe it or not...  we returned to our discussion. I remember being slightly distracted as we did, that panic that I carry along with me creeping from the back of my mind to the front.

I'm well known for a panic button set on automatic.

But then, she called again. I'll never forget the look on Ruth's face as she heard the report of a third plane, this one hitting the Pentagon. You see, Ruth's nephew worked at the Pentagon.

This was no  misunderstanding. This was no accident. This was personal and deliberate, and it was definitely not a molehill. What we were staring at was a big huge mountain.

I'm not sure whether we joined the other groups of our own design or someone came to get us.  I just remember coming into the common area where they were waiting with one of the pastors.  What I could tell by the faces was that not a single one of those older woman had the first clue.

He gathered us in a circle and asked us to join hands. Then he told the whole story as well as he knew it. And then, he prayed. 

And that, my friends, was the first moment in my life that I actually understood the well worn passage of scripture from Philippians 4,  May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God is a supernatural peace. It's a peace so powerful that it transcends circumstance. It was that supernatural peace that kept me from jumping into my car to retrieve the girls from school.  I went instead to the Duchess's house, where were sat transfixed like the rest of the nation.

Time marched on for the women in that group just as it did for every one else. We praised and thanked God that Ruth's nephew was not among the victims. We cried and prayed for the families of those who were.

We prayed Ruth and her army man through his year of deployment which came all to expectedly and all too soon. Here we are, a decade  later, tying yellow ribbons of our own.

Because ten years later, it's still very personal.

And so I remember that September morning today, not because it feels good, but because it feels right.

And today, I'll do exactly what I did ten years ago. I'll stand at my church and hold the hands of sisters in Christ, and I'll pour out my heart in prayer to the One who is never taken by surprise.  I pray that you do the same.

And may the peace of God, 
which passes all understanding, 
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

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