Recently I was privileged to take one of those trips of a lifetime – 5 days in New York with my daughter Esther. It was truly an amazing experience. We were typical tourists, riding around in yellow cabs and going up the Empire State Building, We did Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, stood in awe of all the illuminated adverts and flashing signs in Time Square, took in a couple of broadways shows, wandered around Central Park. We even went to Tiffany’s – after breakfast though!
I had been warned by some dear friends about New York, where not to go, and what not to do. I had to avoid Central Park after sunset and not to go to certain parts of the city late at night. I am sure this was good advice, and I’m happy to report the trip was almost trouble free, except for that time we were foolish enough to get in that unmarked Taxi who charged us 4 times the normal rate, as you can imagine he sampled the wrath of Alison!
We had been highly recommended to take the Blue Bus Tour around the City, and to get on and off at the various stops to take in the sites. This tour took us right down Manhattan Island to the place where the Twin Towers,that were the World Trade Centre, once stood. That was an odd feeling being there. To a place I had never been to before, and yet a place that ten years previously my heart had travelled to, a place that had completely dominated my thinking for days after the terrorist attacks. Yet when Esther and I visited it was a mild December day. The workmen were back on the site, now erecting two more structures that will serve as the new World Trade Centre. There is nothing really to see now just hard hats and cranes, yet there was a real feel that something significant took place here and many people just come and stand in silence to remember, as they witness people rebuilding after such a devastation.
There is a 9/11 memorial museum but we decided not to go in there, but instead we did go into the little church that stands in the shadow of the building site. St Pauls Church, where Abraham Lincoln use to worship many years before, has now been transformed into a place of prayer for the nations. This was such a special place where families who have been bereaved have contributed to touching memorials, and Police and Fire Departments from all over the world, have sent words of sympathy and support. It’s not a place full of horrific pictures, just a few now to remind people of the horrors of that day; it’s more a place where loved ones can be remembered, a scared place that marks the huge loss that was felt by so many. It’s certainly a place where God’s deep peace is tangible.
As we were moving around silently both Esther and I heard a little girl, who must have been about 7 or 8 years old ask her Father: “Daddy, when did this happen?” His response was; “It was before you were born sweetie”. The little girl was really concerned that such a thing could ever have happened, but seemed quite comforted that it was obviously a long, long time ago, not in her lifetime.
Humanity has an amazing ability to move on. To rebuild. To learn and grow. When I heard that little girl it reminded me how quickly life moves on. However devastating, dreadful and horrific it may have been, we move on to a new day where others don’t know about our pain and our past. And in that there is hope and a new beginning. So long as we learn from our mistakes and don’t do that again!
Thank You Gracious Lord, that even when we find ourselves in a place of real hopelessness and devastation you promise to bring us through.
Jesus – during this Lenten season – remind me again that the past, as frightening as it seem, is held by you – the One who opens the door to the future and walks with me into the unknown.
Lord hear us – Lord graciously hear us!