Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Remember to Love"

Thousands of white ribbons are tied to the fence surrounding St. Paul's Chapel in Lower Manhattan, a block from where the Twin Towers stood,

"Remember to Love" printed on each.  

Not solely the word "Remember," but "Remember. . . . to Love."  The 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks is surely about remembering the acts of terrorism,  so cruelly and intentionally performed, and honoring the lives lost, families left, and futures forever altered. Yet the ribbons remind us to step beyond, to act on those memories.  To love.

Last night I entered St. Paul's where an All Night Vigil was being held.  People sat in silence, lit candles, walked slowly from exhibit to exhibit gazing at pictures of those who died, those who responded with acts of bold heroism and gentle kindness, at banners, charred uniforms, a white pew scuffed with the boot marks of tired firefighters.  I chose to walk the labyrinth, in the center of the chapel floor, its path curving back and forth from its entrance, to the center, and back.

A journey that slows my pace, my breathing, my chattering mind, forces me to concentrate on each step.   Nearing the center, I began to cry. I knew none of the victims, was not personally touched by the tragic events.  I had not even been living in the United States at the time;* did not see videos until weeks later.  But the extraordinary love that passed from person to person in this place 10 years ago was tangibly present, absorbed into its walls, floors, its soul.   It embraced me as I circled the labyrinth, and compelled me to ask, "How can I Remember to Love in my daily life?"  "How can my hands join the thousands who lovingly tied white ribbons, to create a more peaceful world?"

Questions that stayed with me as I left the church and walked to Ground Zero.  Approaching the site, my eyes traveled upward, as if the towers were still standing.  In their place were twin beams of light, streaming into the night sky, bursting through the clouds high above, announcing to the world,  "Our spirit is still present."  
May we honor that spirit by remembering . . . to love.
What can that look like for you, for me?

*I invite you to read my article, "A Face of Peace," that appeared in Downtown Magazine NYC this week.  It tells of an experience I had while living in Cairo, Egypt during 9/11.




  1. Those ribbons are a great reminder.

    I was out of the country when it happened, too. I feel a little disconnected from the 9-11 experience...both then and now. A friend told me, while I was still overseas after it happened, "Something is broken in us now."

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kate. Having lived overseas for several years, it's interesting to experience a different perspective when events happen in my home country.


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