Sunday, 11 September 2011

open doors of understanding

I've been thinking a lot about what was happening 10 years ago - perhaps you have been too. I remember where I was on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was welcoming children to my classroom where I taught kindergarten/grade one. A child's parent told me what had just happened. Then my sister came to my classroom, and was worried about our brother who was living and working in Manhattan at the time.

In the following months, my class of students responded in various ways. Those little ones had heard too much of the story, and had lots of questions. How do we respond in helpful ways, to break the fear and lead with hope? We helped to knot a quilt that MCC would send to Afghanistan. We sent little envelopes of rice to our Prime Minister, asking him to send food, not bombs. The children in my class wrote eloquent, moving letters, pleading for peace.

Because that's what we all dream of, right? Peace in our time.

Those months after 9/11 were hard on my brother in Manhattan. And I don't think there's any sense we can make of what happened. But we can find a way forward. And this is how he has inspired me: last year, he hosted an Afghan teenager for a year. I was so inspired that now our family is doing the same. What better way to do interfaith sharing than to live with someone! Her story is vastly different than ours; so many things are different - her faith, culture, background. But we're discovering similarities too. Like loving families who gather weekly. Like the support that a life of prayer can be. Like a curiosity and willingness to learn about each other's traditions and cultures.

Even before 9/11, I was interested in interfaith dialogue. In opening doors of understanding, instead of living in fear and ignorance and mistrust.

I have hope that things can change for the better. I don't want my children to fear someone who has a different faith. I want them to love her like she's their own sister. And that's what I see happening under my own roof, and I'm so very grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these reflections Rebecca. Still processing here. A couple memories that come to mind: when I was finally able to get through to Dad on the phone, which was many hours later because phone lines were so jammed that it was impossible to get a dial tone for a few hours, all I heard was him bursting into tears. Not the jovial voice we're used to getting on the other line when we call home. Then there was the fact that subway lines didn't work, so there were a lot of people walking and taking cabs, a scarce commodity to be sure. Then there was the fact that police were fairly tied up and several people (not everyone, I'll admit!) decided that in a time of crisis it was no longer necessary to obey traffic laws. It was what I imagine the wild west to look like, except wtih everyone needing to get somewhere in a car. Traffic anarchy really heightened the feeling of instability, making us almost unable to move and communicate with the outside world (we still had dial=up internet/, need i say more?). Then there was the fact that we lived in north Bronx and we could see the plume of smoke rising from the towers all the way down in lower Manhattan. It didn't just feel like we were in a movie, we were in a movie, one that would be replayed to us countless times for years after.