“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Nine years and four weeks ago we flew into the city to be with family and friends. The planes were back up in the skies by then, although two fighter jets escorted our flight from somewhere over Pennsylvania until we safely passed over Manhattan and landed at LaGuardia. In the dark of night we could see the black hole illuminated by giant floodlights as the search for bodies continued.
We stayed north of the city with my sister and brother-in-law, and in the morning I took the train into Grand Central. Do you remember anthrax? Not the band, the white powder. As I climbed up the steps into the main terminal we were rushed outside by men dressed in combat gear with machine guns and protective masks on. In the center of the empty floor, next to the information booth, was a pile of white powder. Those were the days.
The first subway my friends and I tried to take downtown never came. The transit police flooded the station with dogs and bullhorns yelling for us to run up to the street level. Be orderly but get the hell out. A bomb, a threat, more white powder…my city friends barely reacted. In a few weeks they had become used to living with terror.
Up on the avenues the sirens never seemed to stop. I suggested a taxi and we rode in silence looking out at the people. We could only go as far as Houston Street and we had to walk the rest of the way. It was too early in the season for snow but the flakes were all around us. It was ash. Weeks after the towers fell, there was still ash raining down. And the smell of death.
I need to interrupt myself….
It strikes me this week, this ninth anniversary, of how deep, wide and far Ground Zero has spread beyond the island and across this great land of ours. The black hole is not just physical or geological, but it has burned through the hearts and souls of every American. Instead of pushing away the hate that landed on our doorsteps, why are so many people embracing it?
These past nine years have been a struggle for most Americans financially, politically and spiritually. If this is a test, we’re failing miserably. That picture up on the top of this post is of Rev. Terry Jones from the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. Let’s say that again together, slowly…Dove World Outreach.
Jones, who is known for posting signs proclaiming that Islam is the devil’s religion, plans to publicly set fire to the book that Muslims consider the word of God. Gen. David Petraeus warned Tuesday in an e-mail to The Associated Press that “images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence.” It was a rare example of a military commander taking a position on a domestic political matter. (Yahoo News)
Thinking about Rev. Jones this morning, I recalled sitting in my office in New Hope Minnesota on the morning of September 11 2001. Most of the folks were down in the conference room watching the newscasts from New York and I needed to take breaks every so often from the horrors on the screen. At one point a co-worker stood in my doorway and with voice quivering he said “We need to drop the bombs now and I don’t care how many men, women or children die. They need to pay for this.” I understood and felt his rage, but didn’t quite get where those bombs should be dropped or on whom. Nine years later, I’m still not sure.
I have also been thinking about the comedian (or at least he used to be funny) Dennis Miller, who appeared on Fox News right before this country chose to invade Iraq and said: “It doesn’t matter who we go to war with, we just need to insert ourselves onto the chess board.” So far in Iraq there have been over 100,000 civilian casualties. The US Military has lost 4418 men and women since yesterday. Hey Dennis…still have that nice house in Beverly Hills? Got Laker tickets for next season yet? Damn you.
This leads me to Leonard Cohen.
While walking the dog yesterday with iPod on shuffle-upilous mode, his song “Anthem” came up. It seems to fit the times. This post was actually going to be about Leonard and how he has become the artist I keep coming back to. How his Live in London went from being a sort of an “oh yeah him” record to now being one of my most favorite albums of all time. Y’all know how I have never been much of a lyric type of guy, but I love this:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Somehow we’ll get by all this hate and fear. It may take awhile for the pain to heal, and it could get much worse before it gets better. And yet, the light will get in someday.
Please enjoy Leonard Cohen with me….
I understand that some folks can’t connect to the video, although it looks great here. Below is the link to the You Tube page…