This past year my wife Merideth and I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. It was an emotional experience, to say the least.
As I made my way through the exhibits in the museum, I felt myself alternately feeling grief and then deep anger. I would often be moved to tears by stories of heroism, and then quickly find myself raging at the kind of inhumanity that brought such loss of life and devastation.
It occurs to me now that I still feel that deep anger, and that it is difficult to keep that anger from becoming misdirected. Activist Valarie Kaur once noted that rightly directed anger can serve to keep us focused on restoration and resurrection after great tragedy and loss. She writes:
Grief is the price of love. Anger is the force that protects that which is loved.Today is the 17th anniversary of the tragic day when, as a friend of mine recently put it, "the world stopped turning." Most of us remember clearly where we were that day, and what we did when we learned what was happening.
But our memories can often lead us to places that aren't helpful if we are careless with them. As we remember the tragedies of 9/11 today, we should let the memories of that day guide us to live more fully, to love more completely and to listen more carefully.
Our remembering should lead us away from the kind of anger that turns us ugly, vengeful, hate-filled and inhuman--just like the attackers on 9/11.
Our remembering should lead us to find ways to protect goodness, innocence, peace and hope with all of our strength, and to find ourselves in God's great big story of God's radical and revolutionary love for all Creation.
And in turn, we may find the courage to practice a similar kind of love, the kind that Valarie Kaur asserts must be poured out in three directions: toward others, toward our ourselves and also toward our enemies.
As you remember the tragedies of 9/11 today, may you be filled with the determination and purpose to let the cycles of violence, vengeance, and hatred end with you. May you discover renewed courage to be a peacemaker. May you use righteous anger to respond firmly to hatred, bigotry and fear-mongering wherever you encounter it.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus be with you now and always. Amen.