Almost exactly one week before September 11, 2001, I walked across the grounds of the World Trade Twin Towers after visiting an art gallery. On that fateful Tuesday morning, back in LA, as reality set in after fielding a few calls from my East Coast clients in the money management industry (I cannot tell you how unsettling it is to hear the quivering voices of Alpha males on the other end of phone), I sat alone in my office and thought there was no truer saying than there but for the grace of God go I… Life and death are in everyone’s cards. We just don’t know when or how they get played out.
A year later, I walked around the fenced-in hole that was now Ground Zero. The wound was still so raw, the enormity of it all looming over everyone’s face, heart, and spirit. As a child of war myself, for me the greatest fear was that my family and I would have to live through yet another deadly fight for freedom. How many wars can one lifetime sustain and still not lose hope?
So it was with great anticipation that I visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum a few days ago. It’s been almost 13 years and the city has indeed survived. The Memorial’s reflecting pools and waterfalls are a great reminder of the endless tears shed over these now hallowed grounds, as well as a symbol of continuity. Where ashes fall life begins anew…
Seeing the Vessey Street stair remnant (aka the Survivors’ Stairs)…
and the Last Column…
made me very emotional. But even after seeing so many artifacts of hate, pain, and most of all, courage, from the twisted metals…
to the humongous quilt handmade out of love,
nothing shook me more than this immense wall:
Is this now our own Wailing Wall?
By the Slurry wall, you can write your tribute here
then run over to find your message appear for a second or two:
I was deep in thought before I left my brief message when the docent hurried me over to get a photo of my message before it evaporated. I was a bit flustered when he did that because I was still teary-eyed over some of the other visitors’ messages.
If you have the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum, give yourself at least two hours to take it all in. It’s a heavy experience loaded with a gamut of emotions. Makes you angry, sad, incredulous, pained. My head struggles to find forgiveness. My heart certainly cannot.
But as I walk away from the museum, I come across this patinated bronze Trinity Root in the courtyard of the historic St. Paul’s Chapel at Broadway and Fulton Street. The sculpture was inspired by a large Sycamore tree that was uprooted by the explosion. The tree had fallen in such a way that it actually shielded the tombstones in the church’s cemetery as well as blocked any damage to the chapel. Steve Tobin heard about the story of this Sycamore and in September 2005 had this sculpture installed here as “a metaphor for connectedness and strength.”
So while forgiveness may never arrive, I can at least answer the question I posed earlier. A lifetime can sustain many wars and tremendous loss, only because hope is as certain as the next sunrise.