© 2003 B. Elders / All rights reserved.
Memorial ~ September 11, 2003
Today is a true Fall day here in Texas. A cool Canadian wind has swept down our canyon from the north, carrying with it the promise of change. Seasonal change. In any change there is the promise of hope. I need to feel hope today.
There is always a loss, however, inherent to every change. For two weeks we have acutely felt the loss... the loss of national innocence. Our country was raped on September 11, after all.
Despite our best attempts at getting anything done around here since that Tuesday, my husband and I have found ourselves irrevocably drawn back to CNN; hourly at first, now daily. And, so, subsequently we've found ourselves inside our house since the tragedy. Too long indoors. Today's norther' has, at last, given us the incentive to go outside again. I think the only time we've gone out for any length of time, it was just hours after the Towers fell. We live pretty far out in the country and are not normally aware of the white noise generated by jets flying so far above us as to be visibly imperceptible. In fact, I wasn't even aware of them going overhead at all, really, until that afternoon when no jets were flying. No planes of any kind were flying that day. It was deathly still outside. The quiet was too loud.
Fifteen days have now passed. Yesterday we cut
down the tall grass around our fire pit in the woods. It was late
in the afternoon by the time we finished, but I insisted that the wind
was still and it would be OK to burn the rubble which we had
since last April in the pit; small scrubby trees we'd hacked down, yard
clippings, hedge trimmings and miscellaneous scrabble. My husband
made me put on my steel- toed boots. He gave me the matches and I
lit the dried remains of our boxwoods. Flames exploded from the
instantly, towering above our heads, swirling smoke and heat so fast I
gasped. We have a garden hose out there, too, to keep control of
the pit, so I began drenching the perimeter, just in case...
Within an hour we had successfully burned to the ground an equivalent of two truckloads of yard debris.
When I originally dug the fire pit last fall, carefully and neatly placing stones in a circle designating its perimeter, wishfully dreaming of weenie roasts, marshmallow roasts, and sing-alongs, I was thrilled to see the first flames glowing in the pit, and the first ashes there the next morning indicating its viability and non-ornamental qualities. I could not have imagined that a mere one year later our country would be so savagely devastated that just seeing flames leaping into the air within my pit could cause me to have a flashback. Me? I wasn't even close to the Twin Towers. But now I, too, have been damaged by its decimation. And as I watched the flames leaping and swirling well past dusk until they withered and dwindled into but a glowing pile of ash, I wondered if we would ever get to take that pleasure I originally intended us to have, ever again, around our fire pit. I wondered if anyone would ever be able to gather there for a marshmallow roast or sing-along without seeing those flames and remembering...
Funny how the mind works.
I often have told friends that based on my own experience, it seems to take two years to get past the trauma of another's death, a divorce, a job change or loss, a move.......could it be that in just two years we can once again look forward to cooking out in my beloved pit without spontaneously responding to it in inexplicable sadness while uncried tears make their uncomfortable presence known in our throats?
This morning my husband and I went out to check the ashes, to stir them and watch the last of the tiny embers fade. I stared blankly at the center of the circle where ashes like fine snow blew upward in a spiral into the robin's-egg-blue-Fall-sky, and all I could think about were those images of bloodied people running out of the black clouds of ash, gray as ghosts, shocked, stunned, separated from their own innocence, separated from lost friends, changed forever. I had to leave the woods and come back inside. I had to write something down. Gene's 85 year-old mother was in Holland when all of this happened. She was way out in the country without a television to make any of this real. She may come to visit us before Christmas. She'll want to sit by our woodland fire pit and warm herself there in the mornings, probably with a cup of hot chocolate. And I'll go out there with her. But will she ever understand once we have walked into our serene woodland retreat, that as we strike our matches, and as the flames begin to leap inevitably, and as the ashen cinders begin again to float through the air on the crisp autumn breeze into the endless blue Texas sky like tiny microscopic ghosts, why it is that my heart is inexplicably breaking right beside her?
Oh come let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation,
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice;
"Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried me, though they saw My work.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, 'it is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.'
So I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest.' "
Our “new” home sits perched upon the edge of a rock ledge way out here in the “Gateway to the Texas Hill Country.” Out here Where the stars spill down to the edge of the earth...
Out here on the ledge, Gene has been hurrying to get our taxes done before the 15th. Every year we "extend" to the limit. Each Spring we swear we won't let it drag into Fall. Never have we ever filed anywhere on or near April 15. Always we are late, late, late. We can't even leave the house together in one gesture. One of us always forgets something and has to run back in at the last minute. Usually him. He says it's a family trait.
So, while I should be helping him go through those mountains of cardboard box files, I just can't seem to get out of my chair. I think my ISP even kicked me offline ten minutes ago for being idle...Oh, well; Gene will just have to fret over those boxes by himself for awhile. Meanwhile, I am just going to sit here in this chair until my keyboard begins to type a letter. With, or without me. After the past unbelieveable month, I don't want to remember how to hurry anymore.......And one can , indeed, get away with procrastinating when one is at least 40 miles from the nearest Babylon. Time isn't held in the same regard out here in the country. In many ways, it is hard to keep track of time at all out here. I guess fresh air and a lack of urban freneticism does that to you, eventually.
Gene and I always
notice how it begins to get really quiet
just as we pass the city limits, when we return from running errands in
We get quieter, too. Everything starts to move a little slower
closer we get to home. But now it feels safer out here, too,
somehow. Less complicated than the city. Less
There's no noise way out here on the plateau, you know----like that day
after September 11th when no planes were flying.
It's always that quiet here when we walk outside in the morning. (Well, except in early Spring when the bullfrogs are singing). For the past year it has been indeed gratifying to look out off our back porch down through the arroyo past the blue notch to the 40 mile mesa and beyond and have it shout back to us, "view here made by God!" And before 9/11, having lived formerly as city dwellers, we found it plain humbling to walk out our back door, hear no noise, see forever, and be repeatedly reminded that no human being could ever make anything so beautiful as what we see down that canyon.
He has further promised that -- to those of us who believe His unbelievable story and who love Him----that He still works all things together for good (Romans 8:28, Job 38-41).All things.
9/11/01, et al.
And for this undeserved free gift, Gene and I
give thanks every day.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for your love.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen.