I write this on September 13. I expect many of us have spent the last week living with memories, as have I. But before I get to the obvious nighmarish memories that we have all shared from that day eight years ago, let me start with two other memories that make this week quite special for me.
September 9, twenty years ago: Gena said "Yes." I became a fiance'. The idea that someone would agree to spend the rest of her life with me - would commit her very life to mine - is still hard for me to comprehend. The idea that that person would be the one who continues to bewitch and amaze me is quite breathtaking. That she would love me remains a mystery and a gift.
September 10, sixteen years ago: Trey breathed his first breath. I became a father. More mystery - that I could participate in the creation of life. That love could result in this incredible gift is beyond what any of us really understands. Now I watch him drive, interact with his peers, discover life and love, lead, and continue to learn to follow Christ. Amazing.
September 11, eight years ago: I was leaving my Tuesday morning Bible study group that met (and still meets without me) at Belmont University in Nashville. I turned on my radio at about 8:05 central time and - like you and everyone else - was shocked and saddened and concerned by the news. In fact, I was so taken that I drove absently through a school zone and got pulled over. Fortunately, no one was hurt. (The judge let me out of the ticket - a testament to the universal recognition of the effects of the news of that morning on all of us.) We still fight battles across the world that are at least tangentially related to that event. We live a little more carefully, take more time being cleared to get on airplanes, wonder a little more about the events of racial profiling we see around us, and pray more about our immediate futures than we did before. We see that void on the NYC skyline and remember. We visit a field in Pennsylvania or the side of the Pentagon and remember.
I am glad that this week - a week of most horrid memories for us all - is also one with memories for me that are transcendent. There is a lesson here, even if you did not get engaged or have a child born this week: God's gifts can be found through the smoke. He truly gives more grace.