The Faith of September 10

By Edward GrinnanEditor-in-Chief of Guideposts The last thing I did at work that Monday, September 10, 2001, was make a … Continued

By Edward Grinnan
Editor-in-Chief of Guideposts

The last thing I did at work that Monday, September 10, 2001, was make a plane reservation for a business trip the next week. I didn’t think twice about it. Why would I? I flew all the time. All I really cared about was getting an aisle seat.

It had been a perfect, cloudless late-summer day, like the murderous day that was to follow. I’d had lunch with a friend and we sat outside at Bryant Park behind the library and watched our fellow New Yorkers go about their business, absorbed in the daily trials and rewards of life in the city. Dogs chased Frisbees in the park. One jumped in the fountain then shook off, sending pedestrians scattering. The baseball pennant races and various tawdry celebrity scandals made the front pages of the tabloids lining the newsstand. Julee, my wife, was up in the country with the dogs and I planned to go home that night, order some Chinese and watch the Giants on Monday Night Football undisturbed. In retrospect, life seemed very simple and uncomplicated. I’m sure I was not experiencing it that way at the time, but looking back across the divide of 9/11, it feels so innocent to me now.

I have written before about September 10, maybe even a bit obsessively. Most Americans, and especially most New Yorkers, can tell you exactly what they were doing when they first heard about the attacks on the Twin Towers the next day, and I am no exception. I was in the Guideposts offices about 40 blocks uptown of the Towers. When the news broke, my assistant, a part-time EMT and member of the city’s disaster response team, looked at me and simply said, “I have to go.” We didn’t see her again for a week.

Still, it’s the seemingly unremarkable 10th that haunts me, a day when the wheels of fate were silently in motion. And as the years pass it isn’t so much that that day was a line of demarcation; in certain ways it very much was. No, it is more a reminder that tomorrow is always uncertain. We look to the future with optimism and hope but we never know exactly what will come to pass. We can predict but we can’t be certain. I know I will probably get up tomorrow morning and walk my dog, and there is a 30 percent chance it will be raining, according to the weather report. And I would be very surprised if this were not to happen because it happens virtually every morning, rain or shine. The lesson of September 10, 2001, the one I remind myself of every year, is that I need more than my expectations to face the future.

I need faith, the belief that no matter what the next day or week or year or eternity holds, I am in the hands of a loving power much greater than my own hopes and dreams and even fears, greater than my power to imagine what happens next at any given moment of my life. It is only by recognizing that uncertainty that I can truly understand the nature of faith, and experience a deeper joy in knowing that the only thing that is certain beyond today, beyond this very instant, is the eternal presence of a loving God who exists beyond the mortal constraints of space and time. Faith, at its deepest, empowers us not only to face the future but to trust in it, and in my life there has perhaps been no greater test of that trust than the crystalline memory I hold of September 10, 2001.

Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief of Guideposts.

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  • ThomasBaum

    Edward GrinnanYou wrote, “I need faith, the belief that no matter what the next day or week or year or eternity holds, I am in the hands of a loving power much greater than my own hopes and dreams and even fears, greater than my power to imagine what happens next at any given moment of my life.”And I find it rather sad that some of the people that believe in God also believe that God is such a petty, vindictive, egotistical, revengeful piece of garbage.God is a Being of Pure Love and God’s Plan is not only for All of humanity but is for All of creation and God’s Plan which is unfolding before our very eyes will come to Fruition.Also God has had His Plan since before creation.You speak of “tomorrow” as being uncertain, as in not secure, and it is and it always has been whether it is related to man-made or natural occurrences.We will never have a “secure” world but that does not mean that we should not do what we can, however we can go to the extreme and make this world into a virtual police state and sad to say, it seems as if some would welcome that.As I have said: God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof and It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.You also wrote, “there has perhaps been no greater test of that trust than the crystalline memory I hold of September 10, 2001.”America is not the whole world, there are many places on this earth that have had prior to and continue to have “9-11-01″ incidences, these people are just as important in God’s Eyes and yet since these “incidences” did not happen here, we sometimes seem to discount them, rather sad, don’t you think? Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Athena4

    After 9/11, people were asking “where was God?” and “why did God allow this to happen?” My answer is that the Divine (whatever you choose to call Him/Her/It) was in the first responders, the people that were helping others get down the steps of the WTC and out of the Pentagon, the ones that took back the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, and the sense of unity that the entire world (with some exceptions) felt against this hideous attack. God is in how we treat other people. I also remember Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blaming liberals, witches, feminists, abortionists, etc. for angering God so much that He “allowed” 9/11 to happen. It was a disgustingly crass political ploy that unfortunately resonated with evangelical Christians.