On this 20th anniversary of the incredible tragedy of September 11th, 2001, it is important to make space for memory and mourning. That day changed the mundanity of a Tuesday, and the perfection of an expansive blue sky. That day, one world fell away while another was forced to begin.
Each of us must wrestle with the memory and loss that comes from this time, and that we’ve come to further understand over these two decades. For some, the pain is still sharp and acute; for others, we speak mostly with awe for the sacrifices and bravery that stared down the unthinkable. No matter what arises or who you are in the events of that day and all the days after, I wish for you strength of heart. That day, one world fell away, and another was forced to begin.
In 2001 Rabbi Arthur Waskow wrote:
For vibrant lives suddenly, shamelessly sacrificed we lift up our loss.
For the lives that continue, haunted by the pain of absence we lift up the ashes of our remorse. For the images forever seared into our memories, we lift up the ashes of our pain.
For the charred visions of peace and the dry taste of fear we lift up the ashes of our grief.
For all that has been destroyed in the fire of anger we lift up the ashes of our disillusionment.
For deaths justified by arrogant patriotism or fanatic faith, we lift up the ashes of our shame.
As we cast these ashes into the troubled waters of our times, O spirit among us, beyond us, and within us, hear our plea: by your power, may these ashes make fertile the soil of our future, and by your mercy may these ashes nourish the seeds of lovingkindness.
For the ways humanity pursues violence, not understanding, we lift up the stones of our anger. For ethnic, religious, and national boundaries to our compassion, we lift up the stones of our fear. For the ways we cast blame and create enemies, we lift up the stones of our self-righteousness.
Dissolving the ashes of our grief and the hardness of our hearts, O cleansing waters, wash us all toward justice and peace. O cleansing waters, wash us all toward justice and peace.
Friends, my heart is with yours today. May our memory, our grief, our learning not alter our conviction for a world driven by love. May the harm done that day not deter our spirits from the beloved community we dream of. May we learn to metabolize our traumas, so that we may break the habits of harm. And may we keep close to our hearts the families and friends we once knew.