I remember the day well. I was traveling south on Highway 71 in northwest Iowa between Spencer and Storm Lake. The radio announcer began talking about an airplane crashing into one of the World Trade Centers. I was curious so I turned to the other stations and got the usual menu of county music and agriculture talk radio. Back to the 80s station. A second plane hit the other World Trade Center. This was no accident. America was under attack.
I arrived at my part-time job as a chaplain at the Northwest Iowa Mental Health Institute in Cherokee. I served about one hundred patients every Tuesday. Most of them were recovering from severe episodes of bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. When I got to the wards, the nurses and patients were crowded around the televisions watching the unthinkable.
I don’t remember too much about the day. I remember praying with a schizophrenic patient who was having an intense battle with his paranoia. I remember doing a lot of listening. I remember the prayer service we had in the chapel at noon. I remember calling my worship leader and secretary to plan a worship service at the church I served. I remember putting together a little message on my forty-five minute trek back home. I remember when the long day was done, taking my three-month-old baby out of his crib. I smelled the fuzz that covered his head and kissed his soft cheek. Despite evidence to the contrary, I knew there was still more good than bad in the world, that God was still stronger than the forces of evil, and that people need Jesus more than ever.
I was in New York just over a month ago. I loved it. People stay up late and sleep in. Never a dull moment. We went to the 9/11 Memorial. We saw where the buildings once stood. We looked at the names of all the people who died that day. The tour guide told us some of their stories. We went way underground and walked through the museum and read about, saw, and heard stories of courage and perseverance. As we emerged from the museum, I saw something beautiful: The World Trade Center. It sits on the south side of Manhattan and towers over that part of the city.
WE will take a moment of silence on Sunday. How can we not? Fifteen years ago, to the day, was a day that changed our country forever. We will also worship, pray, dream, play, watch a bunch of people be baptized, and share a meal together at a huge picnic. Because WE believe there is still more good than bad in the world, that God is stronger than the forces of evil, and that people need Jesus more than ever.