Three thousand six hundred fifty-two days have passed since the world was rocked by the act of terrorism we now refer to simply as 9-11.
On that day I was in Atlanta for a conversation at John Maxwell’s Injoy office where we were to be discussing the flow and form of a new idea called “The Catalyst Conference.” My morning had already been unusual for just before nine o’clock in the midst of my Holiday Inn breakfast I watched the large screen television with other hotel guests as it showed the first plane slamming into 1 World Trade Center.
What unfolded in the next sixty minutes was an outpouring of grief in the restaurant causing me by invitation to stand on a chair and with arms raised over my brothers and sisters to pray for all the people in New York and for those present with me. I was the only Canadian in the restaurant, and the only pastor present. Being watched by the hotel manager I thus began my four-day stint as the unofficial chaplain at the Holiday Inn, Hartsfield Airport.
The Atlanta airport shut down that morning and we had no idea of when flights would resume. Although I had already checked out of my room the hotel staff were able to find me a new room to move into what became home for four days. Over the course of those four days the manager had me come and pray with many people to comfort them over the presumed loss of loved ones who worked in the towers, or relatives who served as brave firefighters and police officers there.
As I think back on those days the fog of the trauma clouds much of it. I do remember entering my hotel room after a rather intense time of prayer with an older couple who were still unable to reach by phone their son who worked in Tower One. I remember feeling a long way away from my wife and sons. I was longing for time alone and some semblance of peace. Lying on the bed, I turned the clock radio towards me seeking soothing music to listen to. Rotating the tuning dial from one side to the other I realized every station had preempted their regular programming to bring continuous news coverage from New York, The Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania.
Tearfully, I poked out words on my keyboard for my monthly “To the Point” leadership missive I entitled “The Day the Music Died.” The Don McLean song from 1971 was recounting when Buddy Holly, Richy Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash – a huge loss to rock and roll music. I wrote of how there was no music on the radio and how the day would forever change the world in our lifetime – and oh, hasn’t it.
Today, ten years later, as I am writing these words to you I realize we will never forget that day. But let me ask about the three thousand six hundred fifty-two days since then. How have you spent those days? Are you pleased with how you have stewarded your time?
As we remember 9-11 let us do so understanding that it is another marker telling us that life here is rather brief. It is fragile so let us steward our minutes, hours and days well as we move forward in striving to imitate Christ.