I learned of the September 11th attacks two hours after it happened, when I checked email and AOL had it on the front page. It was a Tuesday, so I went to Unity of Melbourne for the noon prayer service. I purposely did not watch any news reports of it and to this day have seen very little of it. The next day, September 12th was spent in and out of Unity of Melbourne in their 24 hour World Day of Prayer vigil. I thought it fitting that the Unity churches nationwide had already scheduled the prayer vigil, and it fell on the day after the attacks. Perfect timing. I was writing my October 2001 editorial for Horizons Magazine two days after the September 11th World Trade Center event. The cover of the September 2001 Horizons Magazine was Rob Shouten’s The First Noble Truth. The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering. To live, you must suffer. It is impossible to live without experiencing some kind of suffering. We have to endure physical suffering like sickness, injury, tiredness, old age and eventually death and we have to endure psychological suffering like loneliness, frustrations, fear, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, etc.
The artist writes “In this painting the yellow peace rose on the rock in the stream symbolizes finding a sense of grace at a time of loss. The weeping figure represents the grief we feel at such a time, while the river depicts the process of letting go.”
Again, perfect timing. My October 2001 editorial, which I wrote on September 12th, read:
My groups have been praying and we all know how effective prayer has been proven to be. It’s helpful to remember that miracles abound. It’s possible to wake up tomorrow with everything having been resolved. It’s possible to rebuild what’s been levelled. This includes us. The ones whose lives were lost have gone onto their next evolutionary stage. It’s been long proven that our “essential self” or soul, outlives our physical body, so loss of life is by no means death of anything but the personality in physical form.
Since we attract our experience via thought, it’s helpful to recognize the good that is going on in our lives now, rather than focusing on, via the media, the “tragedies” that are being perpetrated elsewhere.
If it’s not right in front of you, right now, today, it’s not your work. If you’ve dragged it in front of you, then find an active way to be part of the solution, or stop talking about it and focus elsewhere.
It’s not true that we’re helpless and can do nothing. We can hold a hopeful thought in fervent anticipation of a harmonious outcome. You can hold a peaceful place in your tender heart for those around you who are unable to find peace in their own heart.
Since our expectations determine our future experience, it’s helpful to expect the best, the most hopeful outcome. It’s helpful to remember what is true for us at this time. Some of my truths are: I’ve never been without a roof over my head. I’ve never been without food. I’ve never been without electricity, water and indoor plumbing. I’ve never been without access to transportation to take me wherever I’ve wanted to go. I’ve never had such physical infirmity that I was prevented from anything I wanted to do. I’ve never been without the love of friends and family. I’ve never been without access to education and health care. I’ve never been without the means to earn income. I’ve never been denied a place to worship the God of my understanding. I’ve never felt – when I’ve prayed in earnest – that my prayers were unanswered. These are some truths I like to remind myself of when others are talking fearfully of “losing it all.” I know that their experience does not have to be my experience.
Since I’ve never been without these freedoms and comforts, I have the natural belief and expectation that I’ll always have them. And since our expectations determine our future experience, it’s to my advantage to expect that my good fortune will continue.
I’ve been told before that I have a very casual attitude about death and dying, and if I do, it’s only because from an early age, I learned that death was a fact of life. I’ve lost many family members and never thought of it as unfair or untimely. It’s just a part of life. When I was about 10, the man across the street died. He was my dad’s age and their son was my kid brother’s age. It transformed their family before our eyes; it was an early lesson to me that “sh*t happens.” Then the man at the end of the block died. The daughter was about 10 years my senior, and her dad drank a lot. We found him one early morning when we’d snuck down to the railroad tracks to play – apparently he’d fallen asleep on the tracks and a train hit him.
In my late teens and twenties, my grandparents began to die. In my 20’s, I lost 3 brothers, my husband and 5 friends. In my 30’s, I lost my husband, my father, a cousin and several friends. In my 40’s, I lost my husband and my mother, my mother in law and two close friends.
I’ve never felt that God didn’t have it all under control, whether it was done my way or not. I learned you can still communicate with loved ones who have passed on. As an aside, I’ve seen John Edwards from Crossing Over in person and he’s the real deal. But how is this helpful to those of us left behind? It gives us comfort to know that there is something “after.” It gives us something to look forward to, and increases our feeling of staying connected to someone we love. I always think that when it’s my time, I’ve got lotsa friends and family waiting to welcome me home – and knowing they’re ‘there’ kinda demystifies the process for me and makes me feel safe and secure, no matter what.
Our emotions come forth as a result of where our attention is focused. If you’ve been watching the news, you may be feeling anxious and emotional. Remember, though, that despite circumstances, you can focus your thoughts in a direction that brings you peace. Try remembering all the things that are true for you, as I’ve done above. Or maybe just read mine over a few more times, since many of mine are probably true for you as well. Enjoy our offering this month. The best is yet to be. Hari Om.”