September has become a strange month for me. I sometimes don’t know where to look.
I was a fourth grade teacher in my younger days, and September was a forward-looking month back then. Everything was new. New students! New responsibilities! New possibilities! New clothes! 😉
Now decades later, that perspective has changed.
September has me looking backward. Back to sweet fourth graders who are now grown and, some of them, grandparents! (Yes, I was a mere child when I started teaching!) Back to the best times with friends who were close back then and with whom now, thankfully, I have reconnected on social media sites. Back to many joys. And to a few mistakes.
To tell the truth, my Septembers are mostly filled with happy memories. In fact, until 2001, all that this freshening, renewing month brought forth was, simply, good.
Today, remembering the dreadful sights from the television on September 11th, I remember where I was, how I felt, what challenges of my own became so small…
It brings, once again, a renewed vision of what’s important.
Family, friends, community, and faith. And the values that have stood me—us, perhaps—in good stead for generations.
From this perspective, we can all recognize the results of the devastation that shook immeasurably more than the ground in Manhattan. Just as did another terrible fall day, November 22nd, 1963, which took the life of a beloved young president of the United States and shook the foundations of that generation and, consequently, of a whole culture.
While many alive today were born long after the assassination of JFK, and to them it is just an historical event, all but the youngest of us experienced 9/11. We will never forget. Even if we wanted to, we won’t. And we’ve posted videos, listened to speeches, and hash-tagged our way through the past few days because it’s right to remember. But won’t we be so glad to get back to the happy?
We must get back to the happy.
Some time ago, I wrote a book about the value of looking back—about looking back for our own sake but also for the sake of our children.
The retelling of the stories of family is important for so many reasons, whether or not one is a person of faith, but I wrote the book because I saw, in Psalm 78, that God told the children of Israel to tell their children His works and His strength. And it wasn’t for Him; it was for them. The whole purpose of this “statute” was that the children would not forget Him, and they would hope in Him and walk “in His ways”.
Walking with God would be a strength to them.
So many times in scripture we are told to remember—to “forget not”—even though the Apostle Paul also spoke about forgetting what is behind and pressing forward to the prize. But the whole truth is this: looking longingly at the past is time-wasting and often destructive, but remembering with the purpose of honouring and learning is good.
It is good for us.
Somehow, looking back for those reasons provides a safe perspective for moving forward to the new days, new challenges, new joys ahead. According to the record shared by the psalmist, remembering gives hope and strength. And faith. I pray that in our looking back at the events of 9/11, we find those things as well.
Because even in our broken world, they have been here all along.
“And they remembered that God was their rock…”(Psalm 78:38).