Saturday, September 17, 2016

15 year remembrance - 9/19/01 Holy Wednesday

There is only one more posting from 15 years ago. After I began serving as a chaplain, I was too busy, didn't have the energy for the writing, and much of what occurred could not easily be shared for privacy reasons. "Holy Wednesday" refers to the day of my first shift with the Red Cross, and finally being able to get to that work to which I was called.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ELCA-L/message/8763

From: PBellanboy@aol.com
Date: Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:51 am
Reply To: ELCA-L@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Holy Wednesday

It is amazing how people have turned up from all over to help. "I heard a voice saying 'go to NY'..." "I asked God for a sign. And then my daughter said, 'Mom, you're going to NY, aren't you?'" And they came. In some cases obstacles magically fell away. In others, it took good hard work and unaccountable luck. But over and over again people have found themselves in the place God would have them be.

You maybe expect it from NY, NJ, CT. But Ohio and California and God knows where else...

Even the Lutheran churches have heard someone calling. I was at worship today with pastors and others from throughout the immediate area, both Missouri Synod and ELCA, led jointly by leaders of both denominations.

New York has become a city of shrines. There are the poster projects in the Village. A Mexican restaurant on Broadway at 103rd St. did a memorial service last week, and the candles are still burning. The flame of love burns bright, not out. Every firehouse has candles, cards, flowers.

Maybe you've heard. (Hope I've got the details right, this is second hand.) Two weeks ago, a New York foundry was finishing a bronze statue, of a firefighter with his head in his hands, commissioned as a memorial for somewhere in Missouri. The statue has now been donated to NYC, and sits on a flatbed truck in Times Square, surrounded by more flowers, candles, and good wishes.

And always the walls which display the faces of the missing. The bigger ones, at Bellevue, St. Vincent's, the Armory stretch for... longer than you can imagine, longer than is bearable. I want to touch the photos, and bring my fingers to my lips. I feel I should remove my shoes, for this is holy ground.

I saw a young man today, sitting on the ground in front of his friend's picture. After a few minutes he took up a marker and wrote a short tribute, remembrance. Then he put his hand to the picture, and cried.

How my heart breaks with pride that I am a human being.

There seems to have been a mood shift today, and the missing are becoming the hallowed dead.

One of my professors reminded us yesterday that prayer is beyond time and space. We can pray for those in the Trade Center, trying to call, maybe unable to reach their loved ones. For the people in the planes, hoping that obedience would help them survive, then seeing their plane headed for a building. For those running in panic. "For all those in their moment of need..."

And a personal prayer of thanks to Joseph, Mickey, Anthony, Steve, Ellen, Jacob, and so many others who ministered directly to me this day.*

So few were the acts of terror which loom so large. And against this, nothing but uncountable acts of loving kindness. I know which way this battle must eventually go. "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39).

Paul Bellan-Boyer

From left to right: Posters at the Armory, the initial location for family-related services; Missing person poster; Ray's Pizza on 6th Ave.


* I went from the worship service to my first scheduled shift as a chaplain, reporting to the Family Assistance Center on Pier 94. These folks in one way or another helped me to prepare for that moment.

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