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September 11th, 2021 – A Reflection

September 11, 2021
A pathway through the woods along Lake Wheeler near Florence, Alabama

This afternoon has been a time of contemplation for me. There are observances all around the US and even the globe as September 11th, 2001 is remembered. I remember Nellis Air Force Base reeling as ordinary life went out the window as the threat level indicators rose to a wartime footing. I also remember the five months that I spent in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in 2005. I vividly remember the visceral hatred of Muslims in the US, around the globe, and “down range” by the military members I served with. Much of the hatred came from people who said that they were christians (lower case is intentional). Fear and lies spread like wildfire and were still very much alive in 2008 when I deployed to Southwest Asia in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places.

Twenty years after the attacks on September 11th, much of that hatred and fear is still here. In addition, the division and fear-mongering continues to spread as this nation faces a surreal political environment where lies are spread as “truth” and paranoia has replaced critical thinking.

I sometimes wonder how I can keep my sanity as a pastor and Christ-follower. It is far too easy to slip into the language and way of hatred and division. When I find myself going down that path, the Spirit nudges me and invites me back to the path of love, justice, mercy, and peace that is the way of Jesus.

Today my contemplation and prayer focuses on all the victims of warfare, hatred, and fear along with victims of individual and corporate greed. Thomas Merton’s reflections in New Seeds of Contemplation (published in 1949) continue to speak to the world situation today.

When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my own country may cease to want war, but above all that my country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. (New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 121)

On this day, and every day, may this be both my prayer and a call to action. I invite you, dear reader, to join me on this journey towards peace. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer: Lord make me an instrument of Your peace.

3 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing your reflection on September 11, 2001. May be indeed by God’s instruments of peace, love, justice and mercy in the world.

  2. pynkoski2 permalink

    Thank you, Michael. We find ourselves in a hard place if we take seriously our call to be peacemakers. I was just this minute taken to task (but commended by someone else) when I suggested our altar windows, which depict the resurrection and works of mercy, show a contrasting vision to the WW1 windows over the choir stall that show soldiers at the foot of the cross, the British flag, and Jesus walking with two wounded soldiers.

    I am so looking forward to hearing John Dear speak on Gandhi and the Beatitudes on Thursday!

    • Indeed it does… thinking back to the regimental banners and windows in Cathedrals and churches in England… I notice them now in a way that I didn’t back then…

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