It's a difficult time to be about our business

By Darlene Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--I find this column extremely difficult to write this month. I know I don't stand alone when I say the events of Sept. 11 will remain forever seared in my memory. With the destruction of the World Trade Center and the crippling of the United States Pentagon, no one with any sensitivity at all for mankind is able to endure a single day, if not a single hour, without experiencing a sense of complete helplessness at the inability to assist the victims of these attacks in some tangible way.

As the numbing affect of shock wears off and the sick, sinking feeling of reality sets in, we as Americans mourn our own. I know I open myself up for criticism when I say that I find it hard to imagine a future with no tears. Now that I've said it, I know I must cling to that belief with every ounce of faith I can muster, for that is where our only hope lies.

We mourn as a nation the deaths of thousands of innocent people, people who were tragically stripped of their futures. These people weren't movie stars; their morning didn't begin with a "take." Their morning began with a realness that cannot be rewound and retaped until they get it right.

Sure, there have always been wars and the tales of horrific events that emerge from such. But this time somehow it seems different. We weren't engaged in war. We were only going about our business.

We mourn the lives of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and fiancees, and especially the children who have had their futures forever altered by the death of a loved one in this catastrophic event.

Heightened sense

Most assuredly not on the same cataclysmic scale, but real nonetheless, many of us mourn the end of an era in which we lived our lives in relative security and peace. Although I knew there would be tough times ahead, I am only human. Is this the sound of a bugle awakening us to a more heightened sense of vulnerability? Is this the time to trim our lamps? We no longer feel the security and safety (no matter how undeserved) we once felt.

A few days ago I asked a young person I'm acquainted with where he finds his strength. Prayer? Scripture? Church? Friends? I wanted to know, because he obviously was stricken with concern about the situation but seemed strong and resolute.

Without hesitation he told me definitely he draws strength from praying and reading his Bible but that the events of the past few days had only made him realize more fully that "we are only here on this earth for a short time. We must do as much good as we can."

That sentiment seems to be shared by many as we mourn together: Time is short, life is precious. It often seems our greatest times of personal growth come during periods of tremendous upheaval. That is when we look within ourselves and make course adjustments. Sometimes the upheaval touches you personally: an illness, accident or death of someone you love. Sometimes our course adjustments can come by vicariously going through others' trials.

I recall in the Bible where Jesus as a young boy was able to see past the here and now and answer His parents with fortitude: "I must be about my Father's business." At the age of 12 He already sensed the brevity of life, the urgency of time. He knew the importance of getting on with His duties.

We are not little Jesuses running around down here, but it does inspire me to read that passage and realize He was only a child.

What should we be about?

Though we are a few weeks down the road from that terrible day, the pain isn't easing. In fact, we understand now how much more the perpetrators of those attacks had originally planned. We watch on television the suffering of so many of our fellow Americans as they try to grasp what has been done to us on our own soil. While rescue workers search for bodies, our nation's leaders are preparing for war. They are going about their business.

What is our business? What should we "be about" doing? That is a question all of us must answer for ourselves. No amount of preaching from the pulpit or reading of ecclesiastical study papers can give us the answer.

I believe the command to love your neighbor as yourself is about as high a goal as anyone could ever set for himself. I also believe it can be achieved.

We have witnessed that in the many selfless acts of bravery performed by the men and women of the New York City fire department and police department. Hundreds of these firemen, policemen and rescue workers gave their lives, not for a friend or family member, but for complete strangers. I believe they will be rewarded for that in another life.

Yes, we mourn. We are humbled. We will hurt for a long time. But we are also emerging as a stronger nation with a newfound inner strength that only comes from prayer and the acknowledgment that God must guide our leaders and the decisions they make. May we never forget that.

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