"O Lord, who are we that you should notice us, mere mortals that you should care for us? For we are like a breath of air; our days are like a passing shadow."
Psalm 144:3-4, New Living Translation
When was the last time you looked outside at the stars? I love to look at the stars in the silence of the night. When I was little, I thought that the night sky was a huge black sheet, and the stars were holes in the sheet where the light of heaven would sneak through. I thought that if I looked really hard, I could see a bit of heaven through those holes. Then I grew up and went to college to learn that those tiny lights in the sky are really big balls of gas and fire millions and millions of miles away.
How tiny we must look to the Creator of the universe. We sit in our little towns leading our lives, drinking coffee at the corner café and working jobs that pay us so that we can pay others. Our lives are so egocentric, keeping us busy with schedules, errands and work. From high above, we must look like little ants scurrying around aimlessly, scampering from one activity to another.
But then something happens that interrupts our normal flow of life - some tragedy - something far bigger than our lives and our schedules - something like Sept. 11. Do you remember? We stopped and watched and listened in silence for what seemed like an eternity as the film was re-run on television stations over and over - something so completely unbelievable that it made us stop in silence.
The Psalmist reminds us that we are like a breath of air and that all of our days are but a passing shadow, here for a moment, and then quickly gone in the long ebb and flow of time. For some, that shadow passed much too quickly as we watched in silence on that September day in 2001 as the earth seemed to stand still.
Where was God on that September day in 2001? God was with the family hearing the voice of a father and husband for the last time. God was with the firefighters and emergency teams who raced into the buildings with no thought that their lives would also be lost among the rubble. God was holding the hands of those whose deaths still linger even 10 years later, and God is with us even now, walking through the days of silence and sadness and remembering, watching our shadows as they linger her a little longer. As John Wesley said so eloquently, "Best of all, God is with us."
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the many families touched by loss on Sept. 11, 2001, as we remember and as we reach forward into the future to help change our world. On Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, at 11 a.m., Covington First UMC will hold a special community-wide Service of Healing and Wholeness as we remember, pray and hope for a better world for our children.
We stand in silence, knowing that God notices us and that God is with us as we remember...
Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.