Thirteen years. A rising generation has now entered adolescence in this changed world we call home. Thirteen years dominated by terror, war, fear, and hatred. Thirteen years since the 20th century came to its definitive end on a Tuesday morning in September.
Much blood was spilled that day…and so much more since. But before the wars, before all the rest, there were simply days of shock. Days of disbelief and grief and anger and helplessness. For me, days unlike any others before or since.
I dig deep in my own personal archives for today’s post, reprinting part of a column I used to write for our college newspaper (The Houghton Star) in my role as Student Government President. The date on my file is 16 September 2001; it was published not long after as a reflection on our lives as Americans, students, and believers in those terrible days. I offer it to you now as a means of recalling what it was like after the terror but before all the rest:
“The Sound of Silence”
by Joshua Ziefle
The events of the past few days have weighed heavy upon our nation. Arguably the most tumultuous of our lives, they have led us through shock, grief, and anger—a journey that assuredly will be with us as long as we live. Our nation exhibited these emotions collectively—from an American President nearly brought to tears in a news conference to the blank stares of those watching the unthinkable occur on every television to the silent rage of many who rail against this attack. More than this, we find ourselves in the predicament of wanting to do something but having no idea where to begin. Ultimately, it is a feeling of helplessness that makes us frantic in the face of all the images, news reports, radio announcements, and innumerable discussions that confront and surround us in a whirlwind of noise.
…we, like many in our country, may not be able to engage in specific or tangible tasks of relief but we are both able and have been pursuing those activities of aid within our calling…there will be new ways for us to act in the near future, and I ask that you would answer the call when it comes. But let us not be frantic in this pursuit—it is neither effective nor the way of the Christian.
My mind cannot help but go back to Friday September 14 as we came together on the quad, not with noise or confusion, but in silence. As we joined that day in silent prayer to God and as we allowed to Him to speak to us, the utter lack of noise after a week infused with it spoke to the power of the Almighty to calm and direct the direst and most uncontrollable of situations. In end, I offer this: let us act resolutely, let us take time to mourn and grieve, and let us realize that confusion and pain are an unfortunate part of our world that we cannot avoid, but let us never fail to recognize that bringing ourselves in silence before God may be what He desires for us at this point and in this time in our lives.