The mad rush to get out the door was a little different at my house today. Both of my daughters were getting their red, white and blue clothing just right. The high school principal asked everyone to wear those colors today to remember 9-11.
As I watched my high school senior get ready, I went back to September 11, 2001. She was a first grader, just a few days into a new school year in a new school. The day unfolded, to my horror, while she was in school. Parents were asked leave their children at school for the day, and I complied.
I wasn’t sure what to do when she came home, or how much she knew. I was relieved to learn that the faculty and administration at Nutter Fort Elementary decided they wouldn’t turn the TV on in front of the students. My daughter stepped off the bus largely unaware that our nation had been shaken by unimaginable and unspeakable tragedy – and that no one was sure what would happen next.
Her mother, the leader of a United Methodist Church, was mostly unsure of what to do next. When the church administrative assistant asked what to tell people when they called, all I could say was tell them that to meet at the church at 7:00 pm to pray.
And, so we prayed together as a community for the next few nights. Miles and miles away from people whose lives had been turned upside down by death and destruction, we prayed for those who had lost, and for the innocence that we had all lost.
In the last 11 years, we seem to have outgrown our innocence as a nation. We went through our orange alert, hypervigilant days. We seem now to have become older and wiser – more mature about the dangers of the world and our responsibility in it.
Or maybe that’s just the way I see it, through the eyes of a mother observing a young woman who is a high school senior. I marvel at my daughter who has chosen the way of peace, who will go a few days after Christmas on a Mission of Peace. And, I pray that we will have the wisdom to follow the lead of these young ones who have lived through our most fearful days as a nation, and still seek to reach out to a world that God created and called good.
Rev. Amy Shanholtzer is the director of evangelism and congregational development for the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. She was the pastor of Duff Street UMC on Sept. 11, 2001.