This morning my son’s teacher asked his students to turn off their zoom cameras and go ask parents where they were on 9/11/2001. As the teacher predicted, every parent was able to recall, in detail, where they were when they received the news of the attack on the World Trade Center. My son’s teacher went on to tell the students that each generation has had their own tragic marking. He mentioned Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and then told the students that their marking tragedy is Coronavirus.
While my son’s teacher may have been correct about this generation being marked by the tragedy of Coronavirus, I was compelled to remind my son that Coronavirus isn’t the only tragedy currently shredding the fabric of our nation. Racism continues to tear us apart, leaving our grieving soul threadbare.
I grabbed another cup of coffee and made my way back to my own screen, wondering what my son would recall about 2020 once he’s two decades removed from it.
My own recollection of 9/11 extends far beyond the events that unfolded that day; my memories of 9/11 are rooted in the weeks and months that followed. I recall our nation being shaken to its core; I recall the deep grief. And in this place, I recall a nation largely unified. We were united in a collective pain; and we were united in purposeful healing. (What other event has brought crowds of people together for shared ecumenical prayer in Yankee Stadium?) What marked our unity in this tragedy was the message of healing the destruction with faith; healing hate with hope; healing fear with love.
What will our children take away from the crisis we are currently navigating alongside them? My prayer is that we do what it takes to be united in our healing. Jesus prayed for us in John 17:20-23, saying: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
I pray this next generation will recall the ways we – as parents and teachers, as the Church, as a nation – were unified in our message of healing through faith, hope, and love.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:7, 13