Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blue Skies

On September 11, 2001, I was taking care of chores around the house, listening to Public Radio and drinking my morning coffee. The kids had caught their bus to school, and my husband was at work. I don't recall what my plans were for that morning, but I do know that it was a perfect fall day. Chances were that I was going to be outside in any case. And then began the reports of planes and towers and death and destruction. The day is a blur after that. I know I was scared and stunned and sad. I wanted my family close to me. I needed to hold them. Everyone was in shock. I heard over and over again how 9/11 started out as a spectacularly beautiful day.
Blue Skies--Cranes Migrating
Jump ahead to September 11, 2013. It was another beautiful fall morning. Pretty blue skies, the occasional puffy cloud. I spent the morning outside in the garden, pulling weeds, watching butterflies and birds, and feeling happy. But in the back of my mind was the nagging knowledge that today was 9/11. Every time I looked at my phone or the computer, I was reminded again. It just felt like there was a blog post in there somewhere. But I couldn't figure out how to relate a national tragedy to my theme of sharing nature. This was such an incredibly unnatural act.
Blue Skies--Barn Swallow Resting
But as I thought about it throughout the morning, I found the connection. All these years later, the sock in the gut feeling is gone. I'm still sad when I remember, but it's not fresh and painful. I didn't lose anyone, so for those people who did I'm sure the experience is much different. But I lost my sense of safety. For me, time is healing those feelings. They are muffled and diluted, and I have to dredge deep to recall the ache. But what I do remember well is that clear blue sky.  I can smell the perfect autumn air and see the cloudless sky that everyone remembers so well from that day. We had the same weather all the way down here in Florida. Each year on the anniversary, people recall the blue sky. And it seems like September 11 is often a pretty day with blue skies, reminding us of the promise in store that lovely morning. If only...
Blue Skies--Red Tailed Hawks Courting
But today was not like that 9/11. Yes, the sky was blue, but there were clouds. It was hot and muggy and it rained hard in the afternoon. Today is a brand new day. We are not trapped in a cycle of ever repeating perfect blue sky days where everything starts out nicely and then the whole world goes to hell. It happened and it is done. We are healing. Life must go on. This is the eternal cycle of life, death and regrowth.
Blue Skies--Regeneration After The Burn
Our family visited Ground Zero in 2002. There was a huge, gaping hole in the ground and the air still smelled like wet dust. It smelled like destruction and pain. The memorials for the missing and fallen were still in place. It was very difficult to see and experience. I fought back tears most of the time we were there. The lump in my throat ached. It was really sad.
Blue Skies--Swallowtail Feeding
We visited the site again in 2011 and saw the new, beautiful memorials. The huge waterfalls dropping down into the deep marble monuments evoke so much--falling, empty space, inverted skyscrapers, and healing, soothing water. There is renewal and regrowth all around the site and it feels solemn, respectful, and hopeful.
Blue Skies at the 9/11 Memorial 
The tragedy is part of us, but it is what we do with it that matters now. We can choose to scratch open those wounds and relive that hurt over and over again. We can remain fearful and scared. Or we can pick up and keep going and be hopeful. The birds and butterflies in my yard have no concept of our history. Life goes on. Chicks hatch, caterpillars transform into butterflies, flowers die and seeds disperse. The weeds need pulling. Life goes on. And I see blue skies.
Blue Skies--Paper Cranes for Peace