In God We Trust        My Visit to Ground Zero        United Flight 175: Letter from Miriam Horrocks        What You Can Do        Prayers
  by Betty J. Eadie
My 2002 Visit to Ground Zero and My Thoughts Today
 
 

My Visit to Ground Zero
February 2002

Before leaving Seattle for New York for an appearance at Kevin Costner's "Dragonfly" media junket, friends and family asked whether I planned to visit Ground Zero. Without hesitation I answered with a resounding "No!" I had watched all I cared to see of September 11th's horror on television, and that had been enough for me. However, during a phone conversation with Miriam Horrocks [ read letter ] whose husband was a pilot of the airplane which struck the second tower, she explained why she herself had visited Ground Zero, and my feelings began to change. Once in New York, I made the decision to go, and my escort-son, Tom, agreed.

Anticipating what we might see there, my body began to shake from nervous energy. During the taxi ride there, I prayed for the brokenhearted, in sincerity but also perhaps to focus myself in a more positive way than my feelings wanted to take me. I had the driver let Tom and me out a couple of blocks away from the site. I felt to walk to that area, perhaps my Native American spirit needed to approach the sacred place in reverence. But I crawled reluctantly out of the taxi. My spirit was overcome with a sorrow that pervaded all my thoughts, all my emotions. Others walked towards the site, too, and our walk together was somber, as though we were a funeral procession all sharing the same loss.
Nearing Ground Zero, the streets were crowded, thick with people on all sides. But nobody talked. A man accidentally bumped into me, and he kindly whispered, "I'm sorry," which is something seldom said on the streets of New York, much less so kindly and in a whisper. I became aware of one simple yet strange thing. I visit New York often and am familiar with its noise, rush, and never-ending busyness and chaos of its streets. However, on this day, in this area, taxies did not honk their horns, or I did not hear them. It was deadly still and quiet, something I had never experienced in New York.
Fences surrounded Ground Zero. All sorts of items were posted and hanging there, things belonging to those who were killed that day, such as a hat or a shirt. Also there were stuffed toys, cards, beanybabies, sheets with messages scrolled across them, photographs and every imaginable item of remembrance on display. People seemed to want you to know that their loved one, who once lived, had died in this dreadful event. People stood like me, mesmerized, reading almost aloud in a prayerful manner each and every message. It was as if you were compelled to view them all, read them all, not wanting to leave one out.
It was just nearing noon and tickets to view Ground Zero up close were gone for the day. Not that I wanted or needed to get any closer. My spirit had already opened to receive all that it could of September 11, 2001. I knew that those who had died here did not "haunt" or continue to dwell in this space. But energy from the tremendous tragedy did still permeate the area. I began to feel it, taste it, and live it, as though I had been there on that day to witness it all.
In spite of this, I continued praying, as others were praying too. Tears streamed down faces. Strangers hugged one another, as visitors like me from various States felt the tremendous loss of life and the pain associated with the destructive, senseless harm inflicted on humankind at that location. I thought that, were I God, and were this a horror which had to occur, I too might have chosen or allowed it to happen in New York City. New Yorkers are resilient people. They are strong and are survivors. They will rebuild and get on with life as perhaps no other city could do. Their skyline still sets them apart as one of the great cities. But more than this, their energy for life is felt by all who visit, even now. Many who perished were not New Yorkers, but I felt that these also, and their families, possess strength and capacity to overcome and endure, even though their days and nights must still, only months after this tragedy, be filled with unknowable grief and even torment. I prayed for healing blessings for all of them.
Standing there on Fulton street, which gives full view of the empty space where the towers once stood, my spirit became flooded with emotions, not of my own, but of those whose lives were taken. I felt their fear and anxiety. I did not feel to cry now,­ my feelings were too extreme, too deep for that. What I felt comes after the horror: the shock and trauma to body, heart, and soul! My body tensed, my muscles went tight, and I felt ill. I was unable to endure more. I whispered to Tom, "I am done," and we left.

My Thoughts Today
September 2006

It is five years since 9/11/01, and terrorism continues with us. We grieve five years later because there is no resolution. The towers are gone, and nothing yet replaces them. The loss, the shock, still feels fresh as we turn our thoughts to remember that day. We've been defiled, and we live with that defilement every time we see the altered New York City skyline. Every time we hear another news story about loss or courage from that day. Every time we take an airplane. This is like having been abused or raped. You do not completely overcome it. And perhaps we should not. An occurrence so filled with all the complexity and consequence of deep human tragedy, should mark us, should alter us, should never be forgotten. Especially because 9/11 was no accident.
Since visiting Ground Zero, I have had to come to grips with my feelings about the terrorists. I have wanted to heal from the blow they have dealt us, and I have wanted to be free of harboring deep anger against them. These get in the way of aligning ourselves with Heavenly Father. He would have us forgive and be filled with intent to love, no matter the circumstances. The terrorists believed they were giving to God their highest sacrifice in carrying out their awful deeds. Of course, we know they do not engage in suicide-killings based on true contact with God, or on strength gained from authentic spiritual growth. They do it from ignorance, from misguidance, from error-filled tradition and false teachings, from an inflamed sense of injustice and the belief that they qualify as God's agents in bringing destruction to the "infidel" nations.
But at these thoughts, my heart would well up with anger, not pity. Because they hurt so many lives. But I knew I had to forgive. Though I did not lose any of my loved ones on 9/11, terrorism has affected my life, my country, my business, my fellow citizens. What the terrorists did and continue doing damages lives and undermines peace and freedom worldwide.
So I had to look at the conditions of their lives as individuals. At the oppression of poverty and lack of opportunity mixed with religious authoritarianism and dangerous fanaticism. I had to see their actions as what they have needed in order to find a measure of self worth in this world. They feel they have nothing which gives them status except their bold and defiant faith, and the glory they are taught awaits them by bringing destruction in the name of God. They terrorize because they themselves feel terror as hurt and wounded souls who are in doubt that can attain any value in the eyes of God except through exceptional self-sacrificial acts. This is their search to find esteem in the eyes of men and to be loved and accepted by Heaven.
This does not make them right in any degree. Nor does it mean they should be tolerated. We must stop them by whatever means is necessary. It seems most religions have their factions that twist correct principles in such a way as to justify violence or unnatural acts. The Muslim religion is a God-centered, family-oriented, love-based, peace-seeking way of life. It does not create these terrorists. Individual and personal dysfunction creates them, and they use Islam as their excuse.
Knowing, as I do, the unconditional love of God, it brings sadness to my heart to see such lost souls. Not lost to God, but lost to the true knowledge of him and his love for each of us. A love which no one needs to earn and no one needs to feel at risk, ever, of losing. And so I am brought to sorrow and pity over those who, in deep ignorance and deep longing for self worth and God's approval, succumb to the fatal allure of terrorism. And I must look at my own choices, and those of this nation, and pray that we are all using our abundant blessings and free will to bring equality and the benefits of a higher standard of living and of loving into every corner of our communities and of our world. I take responsibility for my choices, as I do for my anger. And I have finally come to forgive, as we all must, even while supporting every effort to conquer and bring to justice the forces and faces of terrorism. Forgiveness does not free the perpetrator from justice or from suffering the consequences of his actions. It does, however, free us from the spiritual errors of anger, hate, and vengeance-seeking. As the Bible says, and as I learned in heaven during my life review, what we hold against our brother will ripple back to be held against us.
Let us grieve for the murdered and the murderer. Let us grieve for our world so divided by pride and greed, hate and violence. But let tragedy nor grief weaken us nor slow our efforts to make a better world for ourselves and our children. Let us be strengthened by what challenges us, and our resolve made more sure to change negative conditions in our world and amongst our brothers and sisters wherever they are found. Let us be bold and courageous in accepting responsibility to serve and to love, but also to protect and preserve what is precious and sacred. And let us teach our children not to walk this world in fear, but to look to God for all things bright and good. For, in spite of the darkest deeds of evil and designing men, God is all around us and is more powerful than they all. Fear only feeds the purposes of terrorism.
By allowing 9/11, God has shown what can happen, and we must become more resilient, like the New Yorkers. We must refuse to give in to fear and terror. This is how we can do battle against terrorism. Not to give it power to make us afraid. I learned this rule of fighting as a child: take away the club that beats you. You do this by removing the power in the club which you yourself give it. We will not cower before it or lie down to be overrun. One thing I really do believe about our blessings of America: we've had our wars and terror and hardships from the days of our Founding Fathers. Our nation and our freedom were born in the throws of the fight. We are not a weak nation. God will see us through anything we must face, as he will for good people everywhere who sincerely look to him and stand firm in the Light of Truth he so lovingly provides.

 

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