As I ran out of the building, I had the briefest glimpse of the plaza between the two towers. In a millisecond, I was just realizing that the plaza was littered with some kind of debris, a huge boulder sized piece of… something. I didn’t get a chance to really form an image of what it was. Because another Port Authority Police Officer shouted to me, “Keep moving!” And I did.
I was motioned on to Church Street, and then moved further up Dey Street. As I stood there with paper floating through the air around me, a thought came to me.
I’d always been a person of faith, but I wasn’t very faithful about the practice of my faith. And as I stood there on Dey Street, it came to me that if I was going to make it through that day and any other day that might come, I was going to have to pray, a lot harder and a lot more diligently than I had ever done before. And I did.
And out of that renewed prayer life came a call to the priesthood,
and a vocation that is now my life’s work.
Each year, I remember less and less about what I saw and heard and felt on September 11th, 2001. The half-formed image of whatever I briefly glimpsed on the plaza that day is little more than a faded outline now. And that’s as it should be.
One of God’s mercies is that, with time, the worst of our memories fade, and the best of our memories remain. Today we remember the best of the people that were lost on this day 16 years ago. We remember a smile, a sense of humor, every kind word ever spoken,
and every loving act. We’ve long since forgotten occasional bad tempers or dirty socks that never made it into the hamper. And that’s as it should be.
Because it’s the love that matters, not the dirty socks.
Life is short, sometimes brutally so. And we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who briefly walk this way with us. So, be swift to love, make haste to be kind. And remember the love; always remember the love.
© The Rev. Mark R. Collins
h/t Henri-Frederick Amiel