I woke up and pulled the blinds up to let the sun shine through while I got ready for the day. The view out the window shot a pain of reality through my body – landslide. Behind my cousin’s townhouse, where the hill was once covered with trees and vines isolating the property from the complex above, was a massive hill of dirt. There were holes and uprooted trees, mud and orange murky water pools. Quickly I was reminded that this world is not safe. Her neighbors have lost windows, aircons, and other parts of their homes, while the whole community had been evacuated just a week before.
Today is September 11th. Today, the landslide is a tragedy of pale comparison to the devastation which occurred a mere 50 miles north of where I spent the night. Today I join a grieving community, a grieving nation, and mourn the loss of thousands of lives and celebrate the heroism of American citizens.
In church, I shared stories of my time with Muslims in Southeast Asia. I shared of my realization of fear and how God changed my heart to that of camaraderie as I began to understood our common journey. I shared the reason why I do what I do, so that others can hear of the love, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. The pastor preached that morning of Jonah and his reluctance to tell the people of Nineveh of God’s forgiveness. He focused on this key part: the depravity of Nineveh was not too terrible for the saving grace of our God.
Later that day, my cousin and I went to a remembrance ceremony. The location for the event, on a clear day, overlooks the broken the skyline of Manhattan. Instead, God sent the rain so creation could grieve along with our nation and we could be reminded of new life which comes from death. Standing among the crowd of hundreds of citizens and servicemen, I felt privileged to stand among a community which grieved more than I could ever know. I watched tears come from the Navy Captain who addressed the gathered crowd and I watched a nearby biker remove his sunglasses to wipe the tears from his eyes. I watched children get antsy as we listened, and realized that ten years ago they were not even born. Life has gone on. Healing comes from grieving in community.
The prayers offered that day were powerful, as we together prayed to the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” But the pain of a nation still set toward justice remained: “God, give us courage to confront our enemies.” Have we learned from Jonah what kind of God we serve? Courage to confront our enemies is easy. The harder thing, the more painful thing, the thing we should be asking God for the courage to do is to love our enemies. It is when we have the courage to love our enemies when we will begin to fully heal.