Birdie was born on September 11, 2010. It was the nine year anniversary of the terrorist attacks and yes, we were well aware as we looked into the swollen little eyes of our newest daughter that some day, we would have to explain.
That someday never quite happened, because it is easy to wiggle around the details of a horror when it is simply known as “9/11.” It was easy to feel the day redeemed, it was easy to say, “good things happen on bad days, because every day belongs to the Lord.”
Joining Classical Conversations changed all that. The first full listening of the ubiquitous Timeline song found Birdie beaming.
“My birthday is in the Timeline!”
I cringed, but let it be. Soon enough, I knew. Soon enough the innocence would be broken, and more of the ugliness of sin and brokenness that is our world would be laid bare before my precious baby girl’s eyes.
It happened this week. We added the handmotions to that part of the song– one hand an airplane, the other a tower that falls– and I had to find the words I had avoided giving voice to for so long.
We sat, all of us, the teens and the littles, and I explained a day that I still remember with a pit in my stomach. I shared about fear, and uncertainty, and loss of life, about injustice and pain, and how in the end, God knows and allows and we must bow to His goodness even through tears.
I looked at my children, some born long after that day, and others only preschoolers as it unfolded, and I gave thanks that my terror that day, my palatable fear has not been brought to fruition:
We do not, today, live in a place where bombs explode daily, where our children know the sounds of approaching airplanes and crouch, where we are under threat of death on an epic scale.
I gave thanks. I praised God. I am safe. My children are safe. We are blessed.
Then I thought of Syria. I thought about mothers and babies, about fathers who never make it home after their shift, about teenage boys who clutch guns, about monsters who see humans as prey. I thought about collateral damage, about buildings that fall on the bodies of children, about air made poison, and leaders–safe from it all– deciding who lives and who dies.
I wept, because I know that I am no more precious in the sight of God than the mothers in labor praying that today is not the day that labor comes– that her baby can stay inside another hour, or two, where he or she is cradled safely. I wept because nightmares are real. I wept because God allows suffering, and we are truly a people given over to a deeper evil than we understand.
I read the news of the air strikes this morning and I stopped and prayed. We are a nation blessed to have a handful of days that live in infamy. One of them happens to be my daughter’s birthday, an ebenezer day we recall with clarity and dread. But in Syria– and in places all over the world– there is no simple “9/11.” There is not one day, singled out, to mark horror. Instead there are strings of days, years, all running together and dragging death and pain and want at their knees.
These are the things that make me long for heaven, make me look to the sky and pray for a glimpse of Christ’s returning. These are the realities of our sinful world, and ones we cannot escape.