How Could We Forget?
I was sleeping. Hard. I'd only started Beeson a couple of weeks before and was still adjusting to how much harder it was than my undergrad plus I was working the warehouse at Event Xtras manhandling big inflatable obstacle courses and wasn't getting along with my roommate. Anyway, I was tired. I'd hit the snooze button, a couple of times, I think. My alarm started going off again, but, though I kept hitting it, the sound wouldn't cease. I was in a state somewhere between sleep and waking when I realized it wasn't my alarm at all. It was my phone.
I grabbed it wondering who in the world would be calling me so early. It was Liza. We were engaged at the time. She had come to Birmingham too and was living with some relatives while looking for a job before we got married in January. When I answered she was a little frantic, which immediately had me worried. She just kept telling me to turn on the news, that someone had flown a plane into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.
Honestly, I was frustrated for being woken up for this. I picture some amateur pilot who had flown a small Cessna through the city, lost control, and crashed, a tragedy to be sure, but nothing to wake me up about. However, since she was so insistent, I got up, got off the phone and turned on CNN.
I was confused. I couldn't figure out what happened. What wasn't helping matters is that none of the anchors seemed to know much of what was going on either. I began flipping back and forth between other news channels, and everyone was reporting different information, mostly because no one was sure what had happened at all. Then, there was a universal pause, a brief moment of silence, as another plane entered the frame.
Reporters frantically began giving eyewitness accounts from the scene narrating what we all were watching in horror. This second plane flew in to the other tower.
Two planes crashed into both towers of the World Trade Center? What the hell was going on?
Over the next few hours we continued to ask that question. We had a lot of questions, actually, but they could all be summed up with that one. A third plane flew into the Pentagon. People trapped in the towers above where the planes crashed began jumping, even swan diving from impossible heights. The south tower collapsed creating a cloud of dust and debris that enveloped everything around it. Reports came in of a fourth plane down in some field in Pennsylvania. In the midst of the chaos following the first tower's collapse, the north tower fell too. News feeds that had featured footage of firemen and other rescue workers running into the buildings began reporting on their horrific loss.
What the hell was going on?
Of course, that's exactly what was going on.
Hell on Earth.
Our prosperous, comfortable, "Christian" pseudo-Eden of a nation was invaded by Hell.
Contrary to what some church leaders believed and even espoused on national television it wasn't God's judgment on us for abortion or homosexuality or greed or pornography or any other grievous sin.
It was sin.
Or the result of it.
It was the work of Evil in the world.
And we stared at it, in its eyes, for most of us in a way in which we'd never been forced to before.
At the worst, for those of us who just watched but weren't there, it paralyzed us in helplessness, fear, and despair.
At the best it unified us together.
Of course, that was just initially. Since then there's been much worse results, namely war. Lots of war. Long war. Costly war. And there's no time now to try to evaluate all the others.
But maybe, just maybe, hopefully and prayerfully, it scared the Hell out of us.
And maybe with Hell gone, we were left to turn to Heaven.
And though many of us wouldn't find there the answers we wanted, we would find the only answer we really need.