Hi everyone. After much waiting, the day has finally come for my trip to Italy and Israel. With all the hustle and running around to get ready for my trip, I'm at the airport waiting to board. As the day progressed, I was wondering what I could write for a blog post. What would be interesting? What would make people want to follow along? I was stumped, honestly.
Making my way through the security parade, I hunted for a bench to put my shoes back on, slightly annoyed with the annoyance of going through security. Upon finding a bench, just above I saw a US flag labelled the Flag of honor. It has the names of all who perished from the 9/11 tragedy. Instantly some perspective of the day came into focus, today is the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.
In preparing for my trip, I regularly hit moments of feeling rather selfish in life. Trying to make plans of what I would like to do, what I would like to see, what I would like to happen, me, myself, and I, seeing this Flag of Honor, I was reminded to look beyond myself and the stresses I carry.
Sitting in an international terminal, I've just brushed shoulders with a large variety of people. Each are going about their business, and in some ways to me, are just scenery to my world. I don't know them, so they just sort of melt into the background color of what I'm not looking at. But, what if I knew their names? What if I recognized someone? They would instantly stand out, and in a sense, become important. What am I trying to say?
Names, knowing someone's name brings familiarity. It brings that personal touch. To me, knowing someone's name is like seeing trees and not just a forest. With 9/11, those lost have often been bundled into the term, "those who were lost", "those who were killed," but seeing names on the flag, I could imagine they have stories. They have families. They had parents who thought about what to name them when they were born.
Over the years since THE day of 9/11, much of how I view the world has changed. On the day of 9/11, I became afraid of Muslims, sided solely with specific persons and groups, and simply saw things as black and white. Most of what I became aware of was through events shown in the news. On the day of of 9/11 and those following, I learned names. I learned some names of those lost. I learned the names of the terrorists. I learned the names of countries. I began to see a world outside of my own. I began to see a glimpse of Jesus beyond myself. I became interested to learn about people, to interact with, eat with, and really dive into the hole "love your neighbor as yourself" commandment. Over the years, meeting those whom I am afraid of has lessened my fear.
How am I to love those different from me? Different can mean many things. Standing in line at the airport, I see a large variety of style. I see a large variety of ethnicity. And so a theme enters my mind today, as I leave, is how do I honor those I do not know.
A concept I am learning from St. Francis of Assisi, when I look at those different than I, I can place myself in their shoes. I could be that person and how would I like to be honored?
In light of 9/11, let's think about our neighbors, familiar and strange. How can we honor them?
Boarding will be soon, so I will write more later. Please feel free to follow along.