Memorial Stones

 

These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. – Joshua 4:7 (NIV)

Sept. 11, 2001, dawned clear and bright. Fall was in the air—in the coolness of the misty morning, in the hints of red, yellow and orange beginning to splash the hillsides, in the honking of geese winging overhead. America shut off the alarm clock, rolled out of bed, opened the curtains and let in the day. With coffee in hand, we set off to work.

By 9 a.m. our world had profoundly, irreversibly changed. By noon we’d gone from disbelief to numbing shock. By evening we vowed, “We will not forget!”

And we haven’t. One of the most tragic days in American history was also one of our finest. We looked in the mirror on that watershed day and said, “We are America.” And then we showed the world what makes America the greatest nation on earth.

America is a land of opportunity. We still open our arms to the tired, poor, huddling masses yearning to breathe free. To those homeless, tempest-tossed souls the lamp is still lifted beside the golden door. In every community modern day immigrants practice medicine, serve cultural cuisine, sell cars. Some are so desperate they sneak in. Don’t let anyone fool you. Opportunities abound in the home of the brave. But that isn’t what makes America great.

America is a land of prosperity. We have houses for our cars. We have closets jam-packed with clothes we grew out of or that we forgot we owned. We have winter clothes and summer clothes. We have footwear for every occasion. We have everyday dishes and good dishes. We have bank accounts, credit cards, investments, retirement plans. We have boats and swimming pools and RVs and motorcycles and four-wheelers and garages so full of stuff that we don’t have room for the car. We eat three square meals a day and then some. Diet and exercise businesses are booming. But our material wealth isn’t what makes America great.

America is the land of the free. We work and still have time to play. We race cars and horses and the clock. We are free to worship and work where we choose. We are free from want and, for the most part, from fear. We have homeless shelters and Homeland Security. We have soup kitchens and supersonic jets. We have policemen, firemen, EMTs, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the military protecting and aiding us. We can be whatever we want to be, go where we want to go. We can choose who, what, when, where, and how. We have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But freedom isn’t what makes America great.

What, then, makes America great?

Its generous heart, resilient spirit and can-do attitude. The Spirit of America born on the shores of Plymouth Rock nearly four centuries ago was found on Sept. 11, 2001, in the rubble that was the World Trade Center and in the wreckage of a plane that slammed into a Pennsylvania field.

Plymouth+Rock+%284%29.jpg (390×260)

On a memorial stone, those stalwart Pilgrims inscribed: “This spot marks the final resting place of the Pilgrims of the Mayflower. In weariness and hunger and in cold, fighting the wilderness and burying their dead in common graves that the Indians should not know how many had perished, they here laid the foundations of a state for which all men for countless ages should have liberty to worship God in their own way. All ye who pass by and see this stone, remember, and dedicate yourselves anew to the resolution that you will not rest until this lofty ideal shall have been realized throughout the earth.”

We will not forget Sept. 11, 2001. We will not forget that for a moment evil prevailed. We will not forget how, by the grace of God, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work, fighting that evil with goodness. We will not forget who and what we are. Let our memorial stones reflect the spirit of America.

God, bless America, land that I love. Amen.

Read and reflect on Joshua 4:1–9, 20–24.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

People gather around stones that are part of a new 9/11 Memorial Glade on May 30 on the grounds of the National September Memorial and Museum after the Glade's dedication ceremony in New York. Set in a glade of trees during the spring 2019, the granite slabs recognize an initially unseen toll of the 2001 terror attacks: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to toxins unleashed in the wreckage.

People gather around stones that are part of a new 9/11 Memorial Glade on May 30 on the grounds of the National September Memorial and Museum after the Glade’s dedication ceremony in New York. Set in a glade of trees during the spring 2019, the granite slabs recognize an initially unseen toll of the 2001 terror attacks: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to toxins unleashed in the wreckage. (AP file photo)

Fiddler on the Roof

That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! –2 Timothy 1:5 The Message

 

Ever wonder why you wake up with certain things running through your mind? I mean, things you haven’t been thinking about or have no apparent connection with the current status of your life.

The subconscious mind is a powerful yet subtle thing. There is a connection.

One morning, for example, I awoke with the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof playing in the half-awake alcoves of my brain. As I lay there, I sang the words to myself.

Why did my subconscious pull this out of the recesses of my memory?

Maybe because I’m in the process of decluttering my house, and decluttering has a way of stirring up memories – memories that take me back through my life. I remembered the traditions of my family, of Dean’s family, and how Dean and I started family traditions of our own.

Fiddler on the Roof is about tradition, the traditions that enabled Tevye and his family to survive the tumultuous times in their Russian village prior to the Revolution of 1905.

“You might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck,” says Tevye. “And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!”

How important is tradition in today’s world of technology and high speed everything?

Tradition, first of all, gives us a sense of identity. Traditions are about more than ourselves. They are about our heritage, where we came from. There’s so much hype these days about tracing our roots, getting our DNA tested. But family traditions can help to provide the very thing those tests provide: a sense of where you came from – and why you are the way you are. And that sense of identity builds strong inter-generational family relationships. Listen carefully, then, to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s stories. They are a part of you.

Second, tradition gives us a sense of belonging. We are not alone in this big, wide, often cold world. We are a part of something – a family, a church, a community. Something bigger than ourselves.

Third, tradition gives a sense of stability, providing balance in a shaky, unstable world. It grounds us and roots us in the familiar. Life, after all, is as uncertain now as it was 113 years ago. Don’t we all find comfort and security in the familiar?

Finally, tradition gives us a sense of continuity. Stories passed down from generation to generation give a glimpse of our ancestors. Like a baton in a runner’s hands gets passed on to the next runner, so life goes on, “one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”

How important are traditions?

Just look at the Old Testament. The traditions God established for His people, and commanded them to continue, gave the Hebrews a sense of identity, belonging, stability and continuity. Not only did they remind them who they were, but Whose they were. It connected them with a God who redeemed them out of His mercy, grace and love.

So it is today. I am so grateful for the traditions of faith passed on to me by my parents. And I pray I’ve passed traditions of faith on to my children and grandchildren. More than anything I yearn for them to see beyond the ritual to the essence of what tradition is all about.

How important are traditions?

In the words of Tevye, “Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as . . . as . . . as a fiddler on the roof.”

What traditions give your life balance and stability? Are you passing them along to the next generation?

Thank you, Lord, for the traditions of faith that give my life stability in an unstable world. Amen.

Read and meditate on Exodus 12:1–14; Joshua 4:1–7. 

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved