Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Time to Love

"Time is
Too slow for those who Wait,
Too swift for those who Fear,
Too long for those who Grieve,
Too short for those who Rejoice.
But for those who Love,
Time is eternal."

Those verses penned in 1904 by poet, professor and statesman Henry van Dyke, a native of Germantown, Pa., are timely for us who remember "9/11," our national day of tragedy 13 years ago when brutal terrorists took over our skies, plunging hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A small legion of American heroes prevented the hijackers of a third airliner, United Flight 93, from reaching their dreaded goal, mostly likely the U.S. Capitol, and instead forced them to crash into an empty field near Shanksville, Pa., killing all onboard.

Today on 9/11/14 there are memorials again being held at each crash site, remembering and mourning the thousands of fallen victims and our many heroes who responded at great risk to these attacks, including those who sacrificed their lives in Shanksville.

We wait desperately for an end to our war on terror, an end that may never come. We fear the rise of a new force of Islamic extremists, ISIS, now wreaking havoc, brutally murdering thousands, inflicting destruction across Iraq and Syria, and threatening to infiltrate Europe and America in their horrific campaign. The only question about this "existential threat," as some describe it, is not if but when.

We grieve for those we have lost in this terrible war on terror-from the first victims of 9/11 ripped from the embrace of loving families, to the courageous, often youthful soldiers we have lost in battle, to non-military victims, including two American journalists recently executed in grisly fashion just to send a message of hate and vengeance. We grieve for them and for their families.

We rejoice all too briefly when gallant soldiers return home from war to rejoin their families and surprise their children, when those who have lost limbs, eyes and other parts of once-healthy bodies rise above their losses to gain new hope and new lives through healing, support and their own determination to survive and live on.

And finally, we love, as we must, as Christ teaches and shows us how to love: by rejecting hate, casting out fear, and growing through our grief and pain to find hope and healing on the other side. We learn to no longer wait for an end to hate, fear, suffering and war, but instead to work for a new beginning, a new chance to experience for ourselves and express to others a perfect love gained through courage, forgiveness and faith in our own promised resurrection.

With wars behind us and rumors of war upon us, let us not wait, or fear, or grieve endlessly. But let us instead strive to love-ourselves and others-as deeply and as completely as we can, and then strive to love even deeper.
Then our rejoicing will rise in the morning, take flight in the noonday and last to comfort us through the darkest, dreariest nights. And then time-not the awful curse for those who fear or grieve without ceasing, but the blessed, grace-filled gift for those who love and rejoice persistently-that time will be eternal, if not in this life, then in the life to come.

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