Ten years ago there was an attack on American soil, the 9-11 attacks of the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93. I was scheduled to give the children’s sermon at my church the following Sunday, the hardest children’s sermon I’ve ever written. With all of the bitterness, name calling and divisiveness that seems to plague life these days, I think maybe it’s a good time to bring this piece back out.
Good morning. I cried a lot this week. Have you? I’ve been scared this week. Have you? I’ve been really mad this week. Have you?
I’ve wondered, “Why God, why?”
Tuesday was a horrible day in which many of us viewed for the first time, the consequences of unadulterated hatred. At first, I thought it was a terrible accident. Then I learned the truth. About midmorning, I could not take any more news. So I left my office building and went for a walk.
Outside I was greeted with the energetic sunshine of an early autumn day in Wisconsin: monarch butterflies flitting around the last of the purple coneflowers, the golden rod glistening in the morning sunlight.
And I wondered, “How can this be? How can Creation go on when such tragedy is happening?”
I found a big rock, and I laid my head in my arms and cried. My heart was shattered. Then I felt God’s tears fall with mine, and I knew, somehow, that God’s heart was shattered too. Together we cried, and at the same time I was comforted.
I thought. “God, I’m so selfish. You need to be with the people in New York, not with me.”
In my mind I imagined the visage of God (have you ever imaged God’s face?)¬¬, smiling even through profound sadness: “I am everywhere at once, always with each and every one of my children, whom I created.”
I lifted my head and looked at the prairie around me. I thought of the amazing world in which we live. That a caterpillar can turn into a butterfly is a miracle, even if a biologist can tell us how it happens. We live in a magnificent world with sandy beaches, rocky shores, mountains, prairies and woodlands. We live on a planet perfectly positioned to support our life from the energy of a single, small star, the sun in a universe with comets and black holes and galaxies.
I thought about all of this, of the miracle of life, chemistry, biology, geology, and mathematics—and I knew beyond all doubt that God is bigger than any tragedy that humans can manufacture, no matter how horrific.
With trepidation and a heart humbled by the awesomeness of God’s creation, I speak.
God did something very loving, and very difficult for a parent, God gave us the ability to make decisions and make choices. God didn’t want us to be puppets with no wills where God pulled the strings and we acted. God wants us to be alive spiritually as well as physically. So God gave us the ability to make decisions and the freedom to choose to love—or not.
God wanted us to be able to freely choose to exercise an incredible gift—the power to love.
Those who attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, chose hate instead of love. In doing so they created chaos and destruction.
Each and every one of you, your parents, your brothers and sisters, every single person on this earth. Let me repeat, every single person on this earth, is God’s child, made in God’s image. And God loves us, and cries for us, and enfolds our Spirit—always, if we ask.
So as God’s special and loved children, I ask you to always remember to choose love.
This is my prayer for you, that you will:
In all things, large and small
Do not choose hatred or bitterness.
For, if hate fills your heart,
Then Love cannot.
And if you do not have Love,
You cannot know God.
For there is no greater power in all Creation,
And Evil will never subdue it.
© Michele Arduengo 2011. All rights reserved.