Today is the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001. It is also the first time in almost a year that I’ve posted.
Welcome back! Thanks for reading.
On my run this morning, I realized today was September 11th. I was struck, then, to notice that the weather was very much like it had been that day 16 years ago.
I remember much about the day. I suppose it is one of those days I will never forget.
Yet, I cringe a little when I hear the phrase “Never Forget.”
It reminds me of another day I will never forget. This day was almost a year later, and, though I don’t remember the date, I’ll always remember the day.
I was preparing for a mission trip. I was also preparing for my divorce to be final. After I had apparently said something bitter, a friend suggested I should consider forgiving my almost-ex-wife.
I said (another thing I will never forget): “Oh, I know I need to forgive her, but not yet. I’m going to let it stew awhile.”
Saying those words aloud woke me up. I knew, from having told other people, that refusing to forgive someone is like taking poison and hoping they’ll get sick (thank you, Anne Lamott, I think). Hearing myself say this started me on the road to forgiveness.
(to be clear: I do not hold my ex-wife solely responsible for our divorce. Therefore, I hope she has forgiven me as well)
I’ll always remember my first marriage, and my first wife. I do not remember it as I did in those first few days and months afterward. I still remember, I will never forget, but my memories have taken different form and occupy a different place in my heart.
As you remember traumatic events in your past, whether national tragedies or personal hitches, may you find the grace of remembering them differently as wounds heal.
You know that sinking feeling you get when you look in your rear-view mirror and see a police car with lights flashing? And you heard the siren before you saw it? And then the next feeling is supposed to be relief because you pull to the side and the police car zooms on past?
Well, I got the first of those feelings without the second a couple of weeks ago, when I got my first speeding ticket in quite a few years.
No doubt I was guilty. 30 in a 20. I hadn’t noticed the change, thought I was keeping up with traffic; you know the drill.
So I pulled over, put the car in Park, put my hands on the steering wheel, and waited.
We had a fine conversation. I kept hoping that I might be let off with a warning. Might have, except it was in a school zone. I guess I want no tolerance in a school zone. Maybe even more than I want a citation.
I can’t say I have been stopped a lot of times. I also can’t say that I have always thought that stopping me and writing me a citation was really the best thing to do. So, I rolled a stop sign, but there was NO ONE else on the road! Oh, yeah, except that parked police car down the street….
For all the times I’ve been stopped, maybe ten over the 35+ years I have been driving, I have always been treated well.
Judging from ONLY my own experience, I cannot make any sense of the challenges our society currently faces over policing.
On the other hand, there are too many stories, and too many incidents, for me to believe that there is not a problem.
But I am absolutely convinced of this: the problem is not the police, and the problem is not one particular race or class of people. The problem is us; the problem is in and with all of us, and until we can all admit that, I do not expect the problem will get any better.
And I don’t know anyone who wants things to keep going like they are. I don’t believe there is anyone who wants things to keep going like they are. But when, and how, are we going to get past the fear and hashtags that frame all of this?
Who is willing to stop vilifying the other, WHOEVER the “other” might be?
I am going to try. Wouldn’t you agree it is worth a try?
If it is worth a try, would you also agree that it has to start with ME trying, and YOU trying, not waiting around for THEM to try?
That’s from my recent brush with the Law. May your next brush with the law be at least as smooth as mine.
A good friend of mine suggested that “the next time I go to church I am going to wear a t-shirt that says, ‘Please don’t ask how I’m doing.”
I sympathize. At the same time, “how are you” is near the top of the queue of phrases that come out of my mouth.
In July, as part of our Summer Book Club, we read Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club. In it, Schwalbe tells how he learned that sometimes a more appropriate question to begin with is “Do you want me to ask you how you are doing?”
Sure, this makes perfect sense when, like Schwalbe, you are attempting to be considerate to someone you know is slowly dying of terminal cancer. But what about someone suffering from something that isn’t so obvious? You can’t know. But most of us care enough that we don’t intend something like “how are you doing?” to be part of launching someone deeper into the depths.
So, I am going to work on this. I will practice NOT asking “how are you doing?” as a matter of small talk. I will practice being ready and willing to listen, though, to any friend who needs to be able to speak whatever is on their mind or heart.
And also ready and willing not to listen if they really aren’t ready to talk about it right now.