Before we get too far into October I have a thought that was inspired by ten words spoken this year, by a little boy, on September 11th. My four young grandchildren woke up and got going on the day, like it was the same as any other. They busied around taking care of the standard daily kind of things – bed making, jimmies back in the drawer, a little cold cereal, the trash emptied, and a little time improving skills at the piano. As they proceeded on this fall morning, with the regular things of life, my daughter – their mother, realized that although September 11th was significant to her and will be forever imprinted on her mind, her four young children knew little or nothing about its importance. She determined to sit down with them and see what she could do to pass on the meaning of a day she had actually experienced, a day that has simply become a piece of history for the nations children.
I imagine that for my Grandchildren it was like the day I came home and told my mother that we were learning about World War II in school and she proceeded to describe what is was like to sit around the radio as a twelve year old girl and hear President Roosevelt announce that our country was under attack, or the day I shared with my children what it was like to wake up, as a young girl to the news that someone had shot the President of the United States – and then his brother, or where I was on the Junior High grounds the day we lost Martin Luther King, that man who had a magnificent dream for our country.
Before they got too far into the day my daughter gathered her little crew around her and unfolded for them the details of her life on September 11th 2001. She described where she had been when she received the news that our country was under attack, how it felt to turn on the TV and watch with horror and disbelief as the Twin Towers fell over and over again, replay after replay. She got out old newspaper clippings and tried the best she could to help them understand the great sadness that came over the world because of the tremendous loss of life. She told them stories of sacrifice and tried to convey the tenderness towards humanity and the love of country that awoke in her that autumn day. “Ethan,” she said, “All this happened when you were a brand new baby. You know how your baby blanket is red, white and blue? Why do you think I made it out of those colors?” Suddenly, an under-appreciated piece of Ethan’s life took on new meaning. “Oh!” he said with newfound understanding. “I never knew!”
She finished her history lesson by telling them about the sacrifice of the men and women on Flight 93, how they had determined to do whatever it took to fight back and put a stop to the death and destruction of that day even though it meant giving everything they had to give. “Because of their sacrifice they kept their airplane from crashing into the White House or the Capitol and killing countless others.” Ethan’s eyes grew bigger and bigger. For this little 8-year-old Jedi, with a closet full of light sabers, this real life tale of people willing to oppose the dark side with there lives if necessary, hit home. It struck him in a way all parents hope the lessons of history will strike their children. Speaking of the willingness to fight back to the point of the ultimate sacrifice he said, “Mom, don’t you think I’d be like one of those guys? Don’t you think I’d fight the bad guys like they did?”
I had just gotten home from an evening Addiction Recovery Meeting when my daughter called to say good night and to share this experience. Ethan’s simple innocent question struck a tender chord inside of me. I had just spent an hour and a half with a group of individuals who at one time in their lives had probably been as hopeful of making future courageous choices as my grandson. Somewhere along the way though, we encountered the unpredictability of life and the reality of the forces of evil, combined with our own weaknesses. In one way or another we had each become a disappointment to ourselves.
Thinking of Ethan and his 8-year-old innocent optimism I silently asked,” Dear Heavenly Father, How do we ever cross that great gulf that lies between today’s disheartening reality and yesterday, when we anticipated only the best in ourselves?”
Immediately I pictured myself sitting with Heavenly Father in my pre-earth life, gazing down as history unfolded, watching all the great and brave souls that walked the earth before it was my turn to come down. Inspired and full of pre-mortal optimism, yet completely inexperienced with the rigors of the test just ahead, I looked on and asked, “Father, don’t you think I’d be like them? Don’t you think I’d do what they did? Don’t you think I’d be that kind of girl?”
In my imagination I could see Him smiling at my innocence and then tears welling up in His loving eyes. “Yes, you have every potential of becoming that kind of a girl, but remember, you will not become such over night and you can only become such with Our help. There is a sure bridge that crosses that great gulf that lies between today’s reality and yesterday’s divine potential. It’s made of patience with the process of becoming, humble reliance on your Heavenly Father and your Savior, Jesus Christ, and remembering again and again and again that you are headed for earth life precisely because you are ‘that kind of girl’ or ‘that kind of boy’ in the making.”
By Nannette W.
Posted Saturday, October 3, 2009
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