Ten years ago today, I went on a hike with the love of my life, while my baby girl was tucked safely away at a campsite at the water’s edge of Lake Powell. When we learned of the day’s tragic events, we struggled…what do we do? There was nothing that we could physically do and there was not even a tv to gather around to absorb the aftermath of the attack our nation had undergone. So we did what humans sometimes do in times of tragedy…..we held hands, hiked, looked at the beautiful scenery and counted our blessings. When the world looks big and scary and the grief is rolling through like waves of the ocean, it often feels best to huddle up and put your arms around something that feels safe.
The other night I saw a man on the news sharing his story of escaping the Twin Towers. He witnessed such horror that day and lost many friends, yet he said he would never be a victim of his life because beauty can be found in everything. In all of the tragedy he witnessed that day, there was also love, bravery, compassion, and faith. He still grieved the friends he lost but believes that the grief is a testament to how deeply he loved them. Amen, brother. Good grief is often times overlooked. As a society, we want closure nice, neat and quick. Numb. Our culture makes millions on ways to numb the grief down. Yet, by doing so, don’t we discount the meaning of what was lost and handicap the recovery process as well? At the end of Broken Open, Lesser references Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran theologian, who called the wound of grief, the gap. The gap isn’t something to fill or substitute. It instead is a space that remains unfilled and preserves the bonds we had with someone or something we loved dearly. God does not fill the gap, but works inside of it and keeps alive the communion…..the meaning of what is lost. Sloppy, messy, brave…the art of grief is acknowledging the loss, the love and then sitting in the gap for as long as it takes until we can move on. Changed….broken….but able to continue forward.
I think many in our country has successfully kept sacred the gap caused by September 11th, 2001. We still mourn the innocence of life before there were terror warning colors and planes that can be used as missiles. We are horrified at the evil that some so inclined can accomplish, yet it is the stories of the bravery, the compassion, and the human spirit that touch us so many years later. Changed…..broken…..but able to continue forward.
As for me today, I am going to do what feels the most natural when the world around me seems daunting and scary. My baby girl is tucked away near some water, this time a pool in the middle of the desert with some swim team friends. So, I’m going to take my little boy…..the one that was conceived ten Septembers ago…. and we are going to hold hands, go for a hike, look at the beautiful scenery and count our blessings. Because in the space of the gap, I am going to give thanks for the biggest example I have of how beauty and magic can appear after a tragic time. And, I have no reason to believe it could not happen again. Changed….. broken…..but able to continue forward.