Yesterday was my birthday. That’s right, 9/11 is my birthday. Hooray. I hope you can identify sarcasm when you read it. I actually thought, as the first anniversary of that terrible day approached, that maybe I would not celebrate my birthday on the 11th of September in successive years. But good friends and loving family members encouraged me to continue to commemorate the day of my birth to bring something joyful to that day. I do not ever forget the thousands who died that day, but I do try to live my life to honor their memory, and to honor the sacrifice of the thousands more who died in subsequent years.
My husband was a US Soldier for 37 years, and for the 4 years before that he attended the US Military Academy at West Point. 41 years in a uniform of our country, swearing from the very beginning of adulthood to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic: he took that oath seriously and still does. It’s a ‘for life’ kind of an oath. And then when your life includes multiple deployments to combat zones and knowing the most amazing, selfless human beings in your organizations, many of whom would “lay down their lives for their friends,” that oath means even more. So he and I both try to live lives that honor the sacrifices of those young men and women who gave their lives for something greater than themselves.
I am thankful for my family & friends, for their birthday wishes yesterday and every September 11th. It’s become difficult because of the attacks that occurred on that day in 2001. But the kindness & thoughtfulness of loved ones always encourages me and reminds me of all the good people in the world that each of them are and represent. For I know that goodness occurs every day, in little ways-a thousand times and more, in big ways- many that we take for granted. A plane landing safely, millions getting home from work and school safely, the sun still rising each morning: we are blessed with much goodness. May we all remember to be thankful to our Creator and Father for all that is good. I am grateful for each of them, and for the life I’ve been given with incredible blessings.
After my faith in God and His love and mercy, my husband, children, their spouses, and our grandchildren, our extended family and dear friends are the things I am most grateful for. And if everything else were taken away, I would still be grateful for those, and for my life. When it comes down to the “worst of times” we just want our loved ones to be okay. When it comes to the “best of times” we want our loved ones to rejoice with us. Isn’t that something to ponder? For me, I also will thank God in the good times and the bad for being here at all. I belong to a faith that believes God “loved us into being” and that if He stopped thinking about us, looking on us in deepest, truest love for even a millisecond, we’d disappear, cease to exist. That is definitely something to ponder. Think about it, pray about it. Give thanks to God for your life.
Today in Bishop Robert Barron’s daily meditation he speaks of ‘detachment’ from material things, and that this is what Jesus meant in His “sermon on the mount” where He asserts “Blessed are the…” Whatever downtrodden, seemingly forgotten or certainly ignored segment of the population He enumerates, Jesus is saying they are ‘happy’ or ‘lucky’ to be born in those delineated groups. The good Bishop asserts that’s because they are “unattached” from earthly goods. The only Good they seek, and turn toward repeatedly and with faith, is God. He is enough for them. Then they are grateful for each other, the ones they love in family and community. It’s hard to remember what you truly need with the culture we live in telling us what we need, and more of, to make us happy, to feel ‘lucky.’
A day like THE 9/11 can bring the essential, authentic goods into laser focus. Love, which John asserts in Scripture is what God is, that’s all we need. Just like that old Beatles song says. They did not know they were prophets. Prophets speak truth. That’s the truth: All you need is Love. God, who is love, takes care of the rest. No need to worry or fret. Just rest in Him and do all things in love, out of love, for the other. God’s love, the “love with which God loves.” That involves surrender. Surrendering to Him and opening yourself up to receive His grace that will energize and even animate you. God’s grace will give you peace, and strength, and fill you with His love that you then have to share with everyone else you know or meet.
Surrender. That may seem a strange recommendation from an Army wife who is married to and has been immersed for more than three decades in a Military world of “advance, advance!” and never “surrender.” But that refers to surrendering to an enemy, which we must never do. No, surrender to the Almighty, the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is to give ourselves over to the One who loves us most and best. Nothing is more desirable than to turn our lives, our hearts and minds, over to Him. Only Good can come from that. Only Love can reign within us then. There will be no room for fear or anger or hatred. Give it a try.