I’m an optimist. I can find a positive spin in any situation. I’ll admit, though, my gift of optimism failed me last year on Tuesday, September 10, a day shy of the one-year anniversary of September 11, 2001 . I was in charge of leading the opening prayer at our staff meeting that week, which I dreaded. I tried to remind myself and my colleagues of God’s presence even in the day ahead by saying, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
But I didn’t feel like rejoicing. I was hoping to somehow not have to enter into the sadness of the day. I didn’t want to be reminded of the pain, suffering and darkness of a day that I associated with death. A knot was growing in my heart as the one year anniversary drew closer.
A Little One on the Way
Something else was growing inside of me–I was 8 months pregnant with my second child and was anticipating two more weeks of pregnant bliss before my baby’s arrival. I was feeling great physically as I made my weekly visit to my obstetrician. I expected her to send me home to enjoy the remaining weeks of my pregnancy. Instead, she sent me home to pack my suitcase. As it turned out, I was several centimeters dilated, and my baby could come at any time.
How could this be? I had felt no contractions. I didn’t feel different. Besides, tomorrow was September 11th. I called my husband. He shifted into a gear I didn’t know he had. I called my mom next. She put in a simple request that I wait and have the baby on September 12th.
The contractions kicked in on September 11 at 6:00 a.m. By the time I got to the hospital at 9:00 a.m., I was nine centimeters dilated. There was no chance that I was going to quietly avoid this day or that my mom’s request was going to be granted. Two hours later at 11:04 a.m., Alejandro Tómas announced his arrival into this imperfect world with a healthy cry. All I could see was perfection. I knew this sweet little boy was meant to be for me, and for so many others, a message of grace and a sign of hope.
September 11th reminds me that life is full of tensions. A single day can contain great joy that is matched in quantity by deep sadness. We live somewhere in the middle, accepting both as mysteries and realities. Living with those mysteries and tensions is my daily challenge as a Christian.
This year family and friends will gather on the 11th to celebrate the gift of Alex’s life. Alex’s birth redefined September 11th for me. It has by no means erased the memory of the horrible events of 2001, and yet resurrected my hope in God’s promise of new life. Even in the midst of death and darkness, new life persists in unpredictable times and places.