Hearing the 9/11 Call

My first response to myself to the question about how I’ve been affected, or changed, by 9/11-reflecting ten years later-was, Not at all. But that’s wrong. If I feel tentative regarding my own changes since 9/11, it’s because I don’t feel I’ve changed enough. Or done enough. But let me tell you something about what I have done.

I’m a teacher. I was on my way to work when I heard something over the radio about a private plane crashing into the World Trade Center. When I got to campus, I found televisions on in every classroom, all tuned to CNN. Really, my changes started then. We didn’t have class in the usual way that day-or for a while. Instead my students and I talked about what was happening and how we were responding. We shared stories about those we might have known who were involved in the first events but turned out ultimately were not. We talked even more, then, about understanding the horror of what had happened and about what we couldn’t understand.

It’s ten years later. And in keeping with the desired brevity of this response, I can tell you that I’ve moderated a community forum with Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders about what is delightfully the same about our respective traditions and what is delightfully different. And I’m preparing to teach a class that will inform with equal value Christianity, Islam, and Judaism along with any other religious traditions (or the lack thereof) that come into the conversation.

So I have been affected by 9/11. I’ve become hopelessly ecumenical. I shared that once with a Mennonite bishop, using those very words, to which he responded, “Well, maybe not hopeless at all.”

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