Today is September 9, 2011, just two days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
I hear the words 9/11 and immediately images come to mind - where I was when the news first hit - those first minutes of unbelief and horror - watching on live TV the collapse of the towers - comforting the Japanese students staying with me; one who had just come from a visit in New York, both of them needing to fly home to Japan.
As days passed, we all realized how the events of that day changed our world; changed our sense of safety, changed our priorities. Churches were full as people gathered to pray. Like others, I was awed by the sacrifice of the firefighters and others who walked into that inferno to save lives, touched by stories of survival, wiped tears at stories of good-byes over cell phones, was moved by those who dropped everything to help, like our east-coast neighbors who hosted hundreds of airline passengers who couldn't go home.
This weekend many of us will pause to remember what happened 10 years ago. Like a pause, to stop - and think and ponder - and be grateful.
Some days of remembrances are more personal. Tomorrow we will remember a friend, gone home to heaven, suddenly and swiftly, leaving us all shocked and saddened. I did not know Derek well, but was so glad to have known him. He is remembered for his kind spirit, his gentle ways. He cooked a terrific roast beef dinner, and we were blessed by it; we understood he did this for many. We know he had a heart for missions, for helping people, a big heart for his children and his beloved grandson. Tomorrow we will celebrate his life and what he meant to us. We ache for the empty space that is left in his family, for his wife and each of his children.
I have been thinking a lot about living life well. Sometimes sadness and grief overshadow the well part. And yet, as we celebrate a person's life, we can be inspired by them to live our own lives well, to be thankful for each moment we are given. To keep accounts short, to say "I love you", and "I appreciate you". Remembering does that for me.