Today I took the kids for a walk in the desert park. Much like that fateful day 12 years ago, I felt like getting away from the media and enjoying something as changeless as nature. It was sunny and humid (for a change) so I was huffing and puffing my way up a hill, when I heard my youngest exclaim, "Oooh! A worker ant carrying a little caterpillar! I bet it's taking it to it's queen. Oh, I just LOVE watching ants work!" This was shortly after I heard "Look a black swallowtail butterfly!" and we all had to stop and watch. Each delighted sighting of nature brightened my day in so many ways.
I often think of my life as having happened in two segments: before 9/11 and after 9/11. The before seemed more lighthearted and happy, the after seems more weary and suspicious. It fills me with incredible sadness that my kids have only known the latter their whole lives.
The week leading up to the anniversary of September 11 always fills me with somber reflection. My husband was stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs in September of 2001. I was a part time college student studying French and Nutrition. We had been married almost 3 years, and life was pretty good. The only uncertainty in our lives was that my husband was about to discharge from the military in November, and we weren't sure where life would take us next. We loved CO, and hoped to stay in the area, enjoying a lifetime of hiking, snow, amazing views and awesome breweries.
September 11th was a class day for me. I stopped at a Safeway to grab some zinc, because I was feeling a cold coming on. As I approached the checkout, I noticed everyone staring open-mouthed at the TV. I asked the person next to me what had happened. Without looking away from the TV, they said a plane had hit one of the twin towers. I looked up at the TV and watched in horror as a second plane hit the second tower. My thoughts were a jumble, but I'll never forget them: "Shit. We're at war. There's going to be a stop-loss. This had to be Osama bin Laden. What if this is a coordinated effort across the US? Is Fort Carson safe? Those poor, poor people. Does my husband know about this yet? Is my husband going to war?" I walked out of the store with an incredibly heavy heart. I looked over at Pikes Peak, and I was reminded instantly that God was still in control. He was still on His throne, and He would bring us through what would undoubtedly be a difficult future. At the same time, I knew that life as I knew it was about to change forever. And it did. My husband didn't end up leaving the military. He felt like he'd be leaving his country in a bind if he left as we were on the brink of war. So, we packed up, left our beloved Colorado, and headed to a new duty station (in a new branch of the military.) Three children ended up joining our lives, so that we eventually became a family of five.
The world has become a rougher place than I remember of those pre 9/11 days. War, violence, terror and poverty consume the news. Americans are weary. And yet, some things remain the same. Little worker ants take food to their queen, and my children delight in watching it happen. God cares for even that little worker ant, and provides for its every need. Though my children are so aware of the violence, pain, war, and sadness in the world, God also takes care of their little minds in this post 9/11 world, reminding them of the truth of His loving care, and giving them great delight in the ordinary.