Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Ground Zero 9-11-2004, New York City, NY

Henri Nouwen writes in his book on Discernment that “Certain events—current events, historical events, critical incidents and life circumstances—serve as signposts...Frequently the news features people who declare that we are living in the end of times. Fear and worry can affect our interpretation of the events we see or hear about. I do believe that we are living in the end of times, but I take that to mean that we are living under God’s promise that ‘all things are being made new’. For me, living in the end of times does not mean that creation will soon come to an end, but it does mean that all the signs of the end that Jesus mentions are already with us: wars and revolutions, conflicts between nations, earthquakes, plagues, famines, and persecutions (Luke 21:9-12)…Thomas Merton identified the ‘signs of the times’ as kairos—a quality of time that is eternal, when time is full of meaning and events point to divine purpose…

When millions of people experience the same event or series of critical events in the world, these events become, according to Merton, occasions to discern the signs of the times.” Certainly one of the simple tests for these “occasions” would be to see if you can recall what you were doing during some significant occasion in your contemporary past. You can probably recall a handful of events that remain fixed in your mind. For this generation, the landmark events of September 11, 2001 will always be seared in our collective memory. As we pause to honor the memories of the nearly three thousand innocent souls lost on that day twelve years ago, we need to pause long enough to look backwards to discern how the seemingly unrelated events of our lives have brought us to where we are now. God has placed all human beings in a broken world with the free will to make choices. He doesn’t necessarily cause bad things to happen as much as he is with us to bring some good out of every occasion. This morning’s USA Today notes that forty percent of Americans surveyed said that the occasion of September 11 permanently changed the way they live today. The date is now a National Day of Service and Remembrance for all of us to channel our emotions into something positive and uplifting for both ourselves and others as we resolve to help create a better world.

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