October 2011

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Last month I wrote here about my experience of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.  We were preparing to observe the tenth anniversary of that terrible day.  Although that was a Tuesday, now ten years later, the anniversary fell on a Sunday and was observed in our worship service with remembrances of the victims and the heroes.  We collected stories from congregants recounting their experience of that day and its effect on them.  Those stories were printed as an insert for the worship service culminating with a litany of prayer.  If you were not able to be here that Sunday and would like a copy, we can send one to you if you call the church office and request it.

            Of all the stories collected, the one from Pat Neary about her experience with her granddaughter touched me most deeply.  I think it may affect you as well.  For that reason, I am reprinting it here.  Pat wrote:


I was getting ready to leave for work. I had my purse in hand, sample bag on my shoulder about to walk out the door. My phone rang, it was Dee. “Did you see?  “Is Chris alright?” (my son in-law who works in the financial district). “See what I asked?” “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center,” she said. I put down my sample bag and purse and turned on the TV. I watched in horror. A few minutes later the second tower was hit. I hung up the phone and called my daughter who doesn’t watch TV, especially the news. When I told her what had happened, she said she wanted to call her husband. I hung up and thought, if we were under attack I was going to spend it with my family. I called my daughter back and told her I would be there in case she needed to go get her husband. Then the Pentagon… I called my manager who was away at a managers meeting in Florida. I left him a message telling him that we were under attack and that both towers had come down. I explained that I would be taking the day off because I would not be spending what might be my last day selling pharmaceutical products. I was going to be with my family.

            I slipped into some kind of survival mode. I went to the bank and took out a significant amount of cash. Then I filled my tank and went to my daughter’s. When I got there her face was pinched with worry, gray, no word from my son-in-law. I remained in survival mode. I grabbed my granddaughter who was a little older than 2 years old and went to the store to buy water, batteries,  canned goods – disaster supplies. The store was filled with people but it was eerily quiet. Everyone had this blank look on their faces. Eyes staring ahead no eye contact. Some faces filled with looks of shock, fear, and desperation. They seemed to be wandering aimlessly, and confused through the store.

            It was so quiet, like an empty cathedral. Suddenly in the distance a small little girl voice that sounded like tinkling bells started singing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder where you are, up above the world so high...” It was my little granddaughter, singing one of her favorite songs. The shoppers stopped, seemingly in unison, and turned their heads toward the sound of that little voice. The sound of life. For a second the blank stares faded, hints of smiles appeared. In that moment some hope, a glimmer of light.


            The prophet Isaiah wrote some 2500 years ago about the hope and promise that a new a better world was possible through the grace and power of God:  “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)  A little child singing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” led a store full of frightened people back into the light of hope.  Mia let her light shine in the darkness (John 1:5), and the darkness could not overcome it.  May it be so with our lives.  Let your light shine!