Tuesday, September 6, 2011

9-11 and the Beauty of Hope

"Ladder Three" fire truck lowered into the 9-11 museum. One of the images that - I believe - defines why (and how) we are a great people
Today is already one of those thoughtful, rainy mornings. Scout and I got our walk in early and then the day suddenly shifted to tropical rains and gusty winds. Part of me wants to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee, and part of me wants to process some of the ideas that have been settling into my mind as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9-11.

Either way, there has to be coffee.

Thinking about 9-11, I had expected to feel some of the weight of the darkness revisit my consciousness, and I have steeled myself for feelings of disillusionment, or despondency or despair.

However, rather than gloom, what's been driving my response this week can best be described as hope, belief, confidence and optimism. And it's deeply spiritual - although not anywhere near what most people imagine when they hear that word. My "spiritual" this week is as far removed from the tedious religiosity that often passes for "Christian" as a busy construction site is from a televangelist selling superstition to the desperate and lonely on a fixed income.
Two things have been responsible for this encouraging shift:
  1. My focus on "The Life-Charged Life" is seeping into every pore of my consciousness. I'm no longer just saying "It's difficult any more to make a distinction between My Life and My Spiritual Life..." I'm experiencing God in my everyday life - more and more - as a natural reflex.
  2. Rebekah and I have been watching a series of documentary films about the amazing reconstruction initiative on the site of the World Trade Center. Each episode chronicles a different aspect: the towers, the memorial, the "hub", the landscaping, the architecture, the museum.... Everything is being done in the context of telling and re-telling the stories, and with such sensitivity, and with such industry, invention and purpose.
And that's the hope that speaks so much more convincingly than our own bombings, and retribution, and killing, and unwillingness to understand that other peoples and cultures can never be compelled or persuaded to value or even respect the particular ideals that make America such a wonderful place.

An amazing new urban landscape
Instead, and this is why I am brimming with belief and hope, what is going on in New York is a demonstration of who we really are! It reminds me of the critically important idea that is behind a lot of my current writing, and that's my conviction that the best we can do is to "Tell the truth about the Gospel message simply by being."

At ground zero - and this is only a partial list - this is some of what we are up to:
  • Taking a horrible mess and a black hole and calling forth something that is beautiful and good...
  • Telling our own story without wasting any unnecessary words...
  • Investing in a future that is - always - better...
  • Honoring the lives of those who were lost...
  • Showcasing stories of heroism and belief and personal sacrifice and human decency...
  • Applying innovation and creativity to a complex problem...
  • Celebrating the marriage of innovation, imagination, and technology...
  • Shouting with a loud voice - "This is who we are and nothing will dampen our enthusiasm and our belief!"

Tell the truth about the Gospel, simply by being...
The most compelling message that any of us have, and that we have - collectively - as a free people, is that of living what we believe out loud and without reservation.

Think about that. Now consider what such a principle might look like as it plays out in our personal witness today, this week, over the 9-11 anniversary and into the rest of our lives.

Listen to what Jesus had to say about this in Matthew 7:
"You can identify people by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter."
In belief, and in the beauty of hope - DEREK

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