Today I pulled out a 14 year old shirt. An old shirt with stains around the collar from the iron in our water at the Perrysville house. A shirt made with tears and love. A shirt crafted by a talented co-worker in the late night hours after the lights in the school had gone dark. Dark.
“In all their distress He too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.”
I pulled out a shirt today to remember when our world turned incredibly darker. Where we were is etched in our mind. The ordinary activities tied tightly to the immoral act unfolding on our TV screens. The school, which is normally full of various voices, jovial jokesters, and trivial trips here and there, was abnormally quiet as I worked through the doors. TV’s rarely used were strongly speaking, conveying pictures of the unbelievable darkness.
I had already cried and prayed on the way into my school. I was only working part time, so the first plane hitting a tower was fresh in my mind. I remember being in the kitchen, stopping what I was doing and walking into the family room to see the unbelievable. The second plane played out over my car radio. God shook my land and I prayed for wisdom. Like most teachers across the nation, all lesson plans became inconsequential. Almost 15 years prior to 2001, my 6th grade class and I watched Challenger blow up on live TV. Lesson plans on grammar and reading can wait when the land is shaken and its people humbled.
“In His love and mercy He redeemed them;”
By the time, I arrived, the school was silent. The principal’s office was fielding parental calls, but gave the okay to turn on the TV. I went to my room and began taking notes on the giant post-its that hung on the wall. The kids filed in silently,pulled out their own notes, and we began to talk and write softly. We established time-lines as best we could. We watched in horror and sorrow. Some wept. Some stoically held the hands of those closest to them. Then we began to write. Some wrote poetry. Some newstories. Some drew pictures. Some wrote editorials. We had a newspaper to produce.
With the help of the school counselor, we added (what are now) iconic colored pictures of that day. It was the only time our small student newspaper ever used color. This issue was too important to charge money for it. The students chose to give it away (we usually charged a quarter), but we took donations to send to NYC. The editors walked through the seats, laying a precious newspaper on every seat so that parents coule read what their children had observed and thought about the tragedy. A usually boistrous gym was silent as the students and parents silently filtered in that old gym. The choir teacher led the choir in songs of sadness and patriotic songs that we all sang. For a short time, the flags flew high. The people mourned. The land humbled itself and prayed. And for that brief moment, we were truly – “one country under God – indivisible…”
“He lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.” — Isaiah 63:9