Quiet to mark the moment

Stop. Listen. Is it at all silent where you are?

It still seems impossible for most of us to forget where we were ten years ago and how, amidst everything else, there was an edgy stillness at the heart of it.

Writer Suzi P. remembers:

I think a lot about that 8 o’clock hour — a typical New York morning, rush hour traffic on the West Side Highway, taxis skimming down the avenues, horns honking, brakes screeching, people scurrying to school and to work. Did I hear either of those planes hurtling through the city sky before hitting their targets? Could I have? They were flying so low at that point, how could I have missed the roar of their jet engines? Or was I just so inured to the sounds of New York on a typical day that I simply blocked out the noise, an urban survival instinct?

My husband came home — on foot — everyone walking, walking north, everyone slightly dazed. And then we walked together across the park to pick up our daughter at the end of her school day, marveling at the crystal clear blue sky, and the utter silence.

We sat as a family in the middle of the park, quietly talking about what had happened, no hum of traffic, and no jetstream plumes that normally would crisscross the New York skyline at that hour. And I knew that our children’s world was all of a sudden very different from the one my husband I had grown up in. Not that the threat of terrorism hadn’t been there before. But there, right there, was the paradigm shift, on a beautiful sparkling fall day, cloaked in terrible noise, and then in silence.

Yet as Fr. Thomas Keating reminds us, the moment of silence need not be the moment of pain:

Some wounds are so deep there can be no immediate relief, no consolation; there may even be an ocean of grief extending in every direction and apparently endless. In some way, all suffering is in God. Thus, our pain is God’s pain and that means that in due time it will become life-giving and healing in the very measure of its intensity. Listening to the Spirit in silent prayer is a key to knowing what to do. Action is most effective when it comes from that place.

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