Light Notes

My ‘New York minute’ memory still collides with 911

Members of the Tri-Cities Professional Firefighter Honor Guard stand watch early Tuesday morning at the 9/11 Memorial at the Southridge Sports & Events Complex in Kennewick. The annual event is held to honor those who sacrificed their lives during the terrorist attacks in 2001. The three-ton, 35-foot-tall monument is a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center in New York. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video
Members of the Tri-Cities Professional Firefighter Honor Guard stand watch early Tuesday morning at the 9/11 Memorial at the Southridge Sports & Events Complex in Kennewick. The annual event is held to honor those who sacrificed their lives during the terrorist attacks in 2001. The three-ton, 35-foot-tall monument is a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center in New York. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Tri-City Herald

I remember the shadow of the World Trade Center, the welcome relief it brought for the businessman, his coat and tie oppressive in the summer heat. I remember beyond the walls and wrought iron fence of St. Paul’s Chapel, quick-footed New Yorkers sidestepping tourists who paused to openly gaze at the towering building.

I remember the quiet of the historic churchyard, the finely dressed gentleman -- a CEO, perhaps -- who was alone in his noontime thoughts. Head bent slightly, he sat upon the aged stone bench, a Bible with its delicate pages open in his hand.

The sight was incongruous with my impression of Manhattan; a professional spending his lunch hour in closeness with God. Yet, it was that picture I held close in my heart the day the twin towers fell ... and even now.

How could I have imagined that five years later on a sunlit morning, life would change for America? Airplanes commandeered by terrorists, invincible buildings disintegrating floor by floor, lives shattered like the glass and twisted steel. Much coming to rest in the churchyard nearby.

Unthinkable. Unbelievable. Until 9/11.

In the days leading up to the inconceivable many of us believed the blessed life we led was guaranteed. Eighteen years later, I’m reminded once again to ask myself these questions that now rest eternal in my heart.

Do I thank God with a grateful heart and draw close to him during untroubled times? Or do I feel self-sufficient, no room in my busyness to study the scriptures or listen in the quiet for his voice? My answers are often found wanting.

So, on the 911 day of remembrance, I’ll think back to my poignant memory of the summer afternoon in 1996. A man, Bible in hand, who had more than a “New York minute” to spend with God in the shadow of the World Trade Center.

I’ll remember his example of faith. A faith that still reassures me that, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 (NLT)

R.I.P. We remember.

Lucy Luginbill is a syndicated Tri-City Herald columnist, religion editor and career public television producer and host. Her popular Light Notes column reflects inspirational and faith-focused stories. She’s been working in journalism for more than 30 years.
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