Lament and renewal: 9/11: Ten years later

Read more reflections on the 9/11 anniversary.

After watching from our 16th-floor windows as both towers lit up, then fell into a cloud of smoke, we gathered in the chapel of the Interchurch Center in Morningside Heights to pray. Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset has said, "History happens when the sensitive crown of the hu man heart inclines to one side or the other of the horizon." I heard the American heart incline and new history unfold as the chapel rang out with the precious names of loved ones downtown. In the speaking of the names I heard the sensitive crown of the human heart incline from security to insecurity; from entitlement to vulnerability; from the veneer of secularity (disenchantment) to a yearning to speak to our Maker; from insularity to fleeting solidarity.

In those moments, the Bible became very relevant because it talks to us about the horizon facing all of us: death. People's spiritual DNA (Augustine: The soul was made for God and will never find its rest until it rests in God) moved them to gather, to pray, to go deep in their wrestling with God. As a chaplain anointed with oil some of the firefighters who rushed into the burning towers, there was the sense that we were baptized for this moment, that our lives mattered. Our hearts were broken, but they were broken open.