In the shadow of the World Trade Center, a well-worn stone bench offered respite on that sultry June day; the coolness of the historic churchyard beckoning. Towering trees stood beyond the quaint wrought-iron fence, their arms spread in welcome.
The year was 1996. Little did I realize the lingering memory of my walk beyond the gate would not be of the names chronicled on headstones in the grass, but of a poignant image I still reflect upon to this day:
Seated there in the spot of quiet outside the walls of St. Paul's Chapel, the sounds of noontime New York City rushing by, a well-dressed businessman sat, head bowed, as he read. But what caught my eye as my steps brought me closer was the Bible that lay across his knees.
The sight was incongruous with my impression of Manhattan; a professional spending his lunch hour in closeness with God. Yet, it is that picture I held close in my heart the day the twin towers fell — and even now.
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This Sunday morning, as I stood in the shadow of our 9/11 memorial in Kennewick, the twisted support beams from the World Trade Center towers rising into the awakening sky, my thoughts turned once again to the spiritual moment I had glimpsed so many years ago.
Was the man I saw that day a corporate employee from the towers across the street? Five years later, on Sept. 11, had he carried his Bible to work, knowing that faith could make a difference in how he faced that day?
I will never know. Still, the memory of the churchyard scene is one I cling to as we approach the anniversary of that sunlit day — one that evil turned into darkness.
Inside those burning smoke-filled buildings were people of faith. When they walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I know that God walked with them. (Psalm 23)