B's Prayer Flag / Lake Chrisann / Sept. 2006
On September 11th 2001, as I watched events unfold from my home in New Jersey, I felt like I was surrounded by the horror — in New York City (just to the northeast), in Pennsylvania (just to the west), and in Washington DC (just to the south).
That night, after falling asleep, I woke in the middle of the night to a red light blinking in the bedroom. My first thought was that a police car was outside and that its emergency strobe lights were flashing. I listened for the police radio, but it was quiet outside. After a few minutes I realized that the light wasn’t coming through the open window, but was coming from a corner inside the room. In the shadows of that corner I saw the outline of a man and as I lay there quietly I could faintly see and feel the movement of many “souls” around me. It was almost as if a hole had opened in my bedroom and I could see all these people on “the other side of the wall” milling about; trying to find their way. I was overwhelmed by it all and willed myself back to sleep as fast as I could.
The next day I saw a segment on TV. A doctor wearing a camera on his head had filmed the collapse of one of the towers. His video showed firemen emerging through the dust and ashes. Each fireman had a light fastened to the front of his coat — a flashing red light that helped them locate each other in dark or poor conditions. These lights were exactly where the red light had been flashing on the man in the shadows of my bedroom. I think what I saw and felt in the room was a fireman who was still working — helping so many lost souls find their way after death. Was he and his light guiding them towards a safer place? A more peaceful place? Heaven? Do we take the skills we have acquired in this life on to another place? I don’t know. But amidst the overwhelming sadness, I felt that this was a sign of kindness and of hope. (And without hope, what are we?)
The memory of that day is still painful, but there is hope here, too. My nephew was born on that day, out on the West Coast in the early morning — just before the attacks happened here. This smart and sturdy five-year-old gives me hope that we can all learn to be more tolerant and caring and work together to make the world a better place.