Isn’t it amazing how tragedies can make time stand still?
For generations, we will continue to ask, “Where were you when … ?” and let the memories transport us away from the mundane and the daily scramble.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a poor college student with no TV in the house. I arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at my morning Spanish class, sat in my usual seat (front and center) and chirped “iBuenos dias!” (Good morning!) to the professor.
His eyes were grey with sorrow as he replied, “No. No es bueno.” (No, it’s not a good morning.) He then briefly told us that a plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York City. We were dumbfounded.
Many of us spent the rest of the day huddled around TVs in the common areas on campus, our only source of information. (Hard to believe mobile technology has come so far since then.) And the rest–as they say–is history…
As the years pass, we begin marking time by events like these. 9/11 comes and goes, and the years fly by. Has it really been 16 years?
This year, many will remember that on 9/11/17, they were recovering from Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey. Or better yet, we will recall our efforts helping those in need. Hopefully next year, we will look back and marvel at how far we’ve come in Houston and in Florida.
Last year about this time, I was in ICU fighting for my life. And today I am the one looking back and marveling at how far I have come!
Throughout all these experiences, big and not-so-big, I have been reflecting on a common theme: RE-INVENTION.
Now, you might think it’s presumptuous to compare my circumstances to someone who has been through a hurricane or a whole city that was attacked by terrorists. But hear me out.
We all struggle. We might not struggle in the same way. In fact, our struggles might be invisible to those around us. But we ALL do hard things.
We all experience pain. Some of us suffer physically, and some of us suffer mentally. But which is easier–to soothe a tormented mind or rescue a stranded hurricane victim? Is it really a fair comparison?
We all have storms in our lives and we all experience destruction. And at some point, we will have to start over. We will have to rebuild. But I am learning that is not necessarily such a bad thing!
I recently thought of the parable of the currant bush, and it has given me some great perspective. In it, a man inherits a farm and sees a little currant bush that has become overgrown. The bush has grown very tall, but it’s all woody and not producing any fruit. So he cuts it down and prunes it until there is nothing left but a little bunch of stumps. In his own words:
“It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. And I thought I heard it say:
‘How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.’
That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I said, ‘Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’” (Hugh B. Brown, “The Currant Bush,” New Era, Jan. 1973, emphasis added)
Is it easy to be cut down? Um. No.
Have I cried a little this year. Uh. Yeah. Actually a lot.
But I’m working on it. I’m getting there. We will all get there … come ICU or hurricanes or terrorist attacks or other unseen demons.
I might not be “laden with fruit.” Not yet anyway. But I’m starting to see some blossoms, and I’m trying to trust my Gardener. I’m trying to be strong even when I’m too weary to fake it. And I’m ok with having bad days. I’m learning as I go. Because it’s a process. And that’s ok!
It will take time. But we WILL rebuild.
And I have to believe that where there was once a shack, I can build a castle.