Remembering September 11: Reflections on Hope, Renewal, and Resilience

Those who will not slip beneath 
the still surface of the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear, nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown away by those who wished for something else.
~By David Whyte from Close to Home
 WTC 9 11

Do you remember when September 11 was just another day on the calendar? "September 11", or simply "9-11", has become a universally recognized phrase meaning a moment when, collectively, our lives in the United States changed forever. As the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001 approaches, we are reminded of the cataclysmic events of that day, and the utter astonishment and disbelief that something like this could happen to "us".  While this was a collective moment, each of us individually will have our own private, personal "9-11's" in our lives.  Perhaps our personal 9-11's will come as a dreaded diagnosis, a late night phone call, an accident, a devastating natural disaster, an unspeakable hurt or loss. There will be no journalists covering our 9-11's, no awards for heroism, nor museums built, but that doesn't make our personal 9-11's any less devastating or life-altering. While we cannot prepare for what our personal 9-11's will look like, we can find ways to build resiliency; first by acknowledging the grief and loss that occurs when our life is knocked off its axis and then by diving deep to find ways to cope, make meaning, find purpose, and renewed hope in our "new normal".  I have been touched by reading some of the stories of resiliency this week, stories of those who have used these past ten years to rebuild lives in ways that look very different than the lives planned and imagined prior to September 11, 2001. This is the work of renewal, resiliency, and hope; to find something glimmering in the darkness, as David Whyte suggests in "The Well of Grief".  We cannot control the outcome of an event, a 9-11 in our lives, but we can control the experience by creating a renewed sense of purpose, meaning and hope in our lives as we adapt to our new normal.