I would guess most Americans remember the events in remarkable detail. The deep September blue of the sky, the freakish plumes of smoke from the towers, the confusion on the faces of everyone, from the President to the newscasters, to the crowds down below looking heavenward. The horror of the leapers, the anguished faces of those who fled the dust bowl sized clouds which chased them down Manhattan streets, and then the eerie quiet in NYC for long weeks after the attacks.
9/11. It was terrorism. It was war. It was bizarre watching it all unfold on our TV screens. It was mesmerizing, like witnessing a traffic accident. We could, on some level, all identify. We all knew this event would leave a scar. Burn itself into our memories. Like Kennedy’s assassination, the nation would never be the same.
There was a moment for me, when I felt my soul shift. It was when the Twin Towers tumbled down, all that power and strength and genius demolished in seconds. It was once royalty in the sky, and then primitive rubble on the ground. The ground must have shook. I know my soul did. It was such a graphic symbol of our complete lack of control, and the massive indifference of evil.
It was difficult to imagine all the bodies, lives, dreams, hopes, histories, pains, losses, failures, successes, and assorted bits of living, which spun out of control along with all of that sharp edged sizzling debris. There were so many faiths, the yearning for meaning, a longing to understand it all. At this one place in one moment of time, were thousands of folks representing thousands of years of belief, in traditions, rituals, myths, mysteries, and holy books. No two souls believing the exact same thing. Each faith represented still unique and individual.
I heard a man on TV express his hope that all the deceased had found Jesus before they died. This was my transforming moment. Even as a Christian Pastor, I knew my God would somehow manage to bring everyone home. The Grace of God would open the gates of Heaven for every soul in those towers, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, or Agnostic. All were and are God’s beloved children.
This thought helped free the Grace within me. It wiped away a good many fears and prejudices. It reminded me of the swarming love and forgiveness in which we live. My God has all eternity to transform the souls of the departed. I trust all will someday in some way be convinced of their heritage. They are all God’s beloved.
Two majestic towers came crashing to earth, a tragedy of great magnitude. It was an event of significant horror for all Americans. My faith came up to Grace that day. It embraced a Grace which makes no sense, a grace which offers those who have worked for minutes, the same wages as those who have labored long hours. This Grace is not reasonable. It is not fair. It is indefensible. It is, however, just. In the eyes of God we are all equal, cherished, adored, and beloved. In the end, we will all be brought home to the God of tender mercies.
Universal salvation dawned on me that day. It has changed my faith. More importantly, it has transformed my life. I am paying attention these days. Noticing how and when God is rearranging my ideas, priorities, and beliefs.
We are being transformed on a daily basis. It is simply hard to detect the shifts. Like erosion, or global warming, or slogging, or even love. Transformation is a slow steady process. Life moves. It is changing. It is always revealing the endless and infinite love God has for us all.
My mother was the “Queen of Worriers” – They’re still working on making her crown. I don’t recall the actual coronation, but trust me, she was anointed to the throne.
Just to be clear, if there were an Olympics of Worrying, my mother would have won at least a dozen gold medals. Her chin would hit the ground trying to withstand all the weight from the medals hanging around her neck.
If a young mother came into our home with a baby, my mom could point out seven ways the child might be killed just within the walls of our living room.
When I went alone to the 4th of July parade for the first time, I received a ten-minute lecture on the potential danger of stampeding horses. When I swam in Lake Michigan, I was always admonished if I dare swim out beyond the buoys… I could drown. When I went sledding at Shoop Park, I was reminded of how many toboggan or sled riders had crashed headlong against marauding monster trees.
If an August thunderstorm began to rumble on the horizon, it was only minutes before mom had gathered her brood and hustled us down into the basement. My father would sit outside, smoke his pipe, and watch the storm roll in. He always predicted it would be sucked up by Lake Michigan, which usually turned out to be true. Yet, mom would tell me and my sister that if Dad was dumb enough to sit out there then he could enjoy his trip to Oz.
I am pretty sure worry warts are genetic. They are the product of history and hysteria. It is all a matter of attitude and perspective. Worry warts do not look at the glass as half empty. They look at the glass as shattered, with one or two shards embedded in your foot.
The first time I had a planter’s wart removed from the sole of my foot, I was stunned to see the medicine the doctor applied, created a half-inch sized hole of at least quarter-inch depth. The roots of a wart are deep. The roots of a worry wart go back several generations, and they sprawl like a cobweb.
These roots sneak and slither in and about the soul. They weave and knot themselves in clusters around the human spirit. They can strangle the spirit. They can suck the life right out of a worrier. They can drain one dry of any joy. These roots are like a network of rattlers and just as lethal.
I recall Dr. Kaufman, my podiatrist as a kid, explaining to me the ointment he used was acidic, but this acid knew when to stop. This acid only chowed down on the wart, not the healthy flesh. I was impressed with this most mysterious salve.
There is no such balm for the worry wart. No salve that will work quickly or fail to leave a scar. I have come to believe that worry warts can only be removed by faith, a spiritual surrender to a Higher Power.
This kind of faith needs to function like acid. It must cut through the many layers of ego which tell us we are in control, or in charge, or can do it all by ourselves. This is a faith which can calm down the chaotic spin of worries. It is a faith which is the still point in an ever turning world. Faith alone can offer us a focus and courage which has the power to reduce, even eliminate fear.
Fear is expecting the worst. Worry warts unconsciously pay homage to the worst that might be. They offer devotion to bad news. They worship negativity. They call it being realistic. They kneel before the chance that something terrible might happen. They wince and close their eyes and hope it will go away. They cower in safe corners, and never step outside the lines of their box. They say they are secure. They are in fact, just stagnant.
Faith is expecting the best. Faith erodes the roots of worry, building confidence in the power of the Self and God. Worry is no match for the conviction that I will be fine, and I will work this out. Worry must surrender to a faith which simply expects Grace. Worry gets pinned by a perspective of gratitude. Those who have strengthened their faith, head into each day with their eyes and hearts wide open. They are awake, aware, and fully alive. They smile and greet the dawn. They will mature and grow.
Still, fear is a formidable opponent to faith. Fear comes easily. Like weeds, our worries grow fast. The whole soul can be infested in a few days. Fear functions with the ferocity of a malignancy.
Faith takes time, baby steps, patience and perseverance. It is a discipline. It requires a rigorous honesty and a daily decision to turn it over to God – however we understand God.
Today, warts can be removed by freezing them or even with lasers. Worry warts still have only one antidote I am aware of, and that is a robust faith. I also know that I will always be a worry wart, but I am smarter now. I know the best way to handle my worries is to use my faith, the best salve there is!
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.