Sunday, September 11, 2005

9/11 Four Years Later

I just spent some time on the Promenade, spilled a toast, and thought about the anniversary. They put up lights on 9/11 every year now.

The Quakers had a special meeting, opening the house at 9 for a potentially 3-hour session for those interested. I sat for 2 hours, and two threads came up in testimony that I was particularly interested in.

The first thread had to do with humility. Mostly dealing with a humbling experience, a retreat from arrogance, and the feeling of smallness. Yet as the testimonies were laced in despair, I couldn't to help to think that if we aren't so powerful as we think, as we gain an appreciation for the powers of nature, or moments beyond our comprehension, there should also be a enhancement of beauty. Just as there is more powerful and ineffable forces in our lives, that which we take for granted ought to be more fragile, and thus more cherished and wondered at.

The second thread had to do with ghosts. My term, not others. But it ties in with the first thread insofar as, in the modern era there are more ghost like experience around us, and yet I tend to believe less in them. But besides feeling the presence of the dearly departed, we have artifacts, letters, pictures, movies, recordings and so on. The departed continue to haunt us, but we call it memorial, remembrance, reflection.

This morning for me, the ghost was the Times publishing this letter from Spalding Gray, whom I was deeply fascinated with prior to coming to New York, and deeply sad at his suicide.

They print:
Spalding Gray, the actor and monologuist, died in 2004. The following letter, which he wrote in the aftermath of 9/11, will appear in "Life Interrupted," a published version of the monologue he was working on at the time of his death.

For 34 years I lived with you and came to love you. I came to you because I loved theater and found theater everywhere I looked. I fled New England and came to Manhattan, that island off the coast of America, where human nature was king and everyone exuded character and had big attitude. You gave me a sense of humor because you are so absurd.

When we were kids, my mom hung a poster over our bed. It had a picture of a bumblebee, and under the picture the caption read:

"According to all aerodynamic laws, the bumblebee cannot fly because its body weight is not in the right proportion to its wingspan. But ignoring these laws, the bee flies anyway."

That is still New York City for me.

There are points I could preach on from today, but I'll pass. It is enough to feel heaviness and regret to know that we didn't respond correctly as a country, and it took a far greater catastrophe to put this into perspective.

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