This was published in October, 2001. I wrote it on Sept. 13. I can’t say it any better eight years later.
It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death….I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more" – Anne Frank, July 15, 1944
As I write this, it has been a week of horrendous events in our country. It appears that thousands have died at the hands of terrorists, and that this is far from over.
Just hours after the attacks, I had lunch with my daughter at school. Terrified parents lined up to retrieve their children from class. I clenched my teeth as I left mine there to finish the school day.
So much has been lost: lives, families, and the innocence that our relatively young nation has enjoyed within these protected borders. How do you explain to an eight-year-old that this kind of evil exists? Here. Now. In our backyard.
I fear that I have missed some easy lessons in my life. But there have been some burning bushes that would not be overlooked. I want to scream those lessons to my children, to force them to listen. I pray that they hear me.
My friend, ravaged by cancer, taught me that tomorrow is not promised. She could face death head-on, if only she could know that her children would remember her. What would she leave them? What would my legacy be to my own children?
I was privileged, as strange as it sounds, to spend an afternoon with a convicted murderer as he waited to learn his fate. He cried as I held his hand. I learned that people are not always what they seem. Everyone is afraid of something.
I have stood in the house where Anne Frank hid from horrors that are beyond anything that I can imagine—even after the television images I have seen this week. The blackened windows could not dim the images of movie stars pasted to the walls. Children are children even when the wolf is at the door.
What will I tell my child about this tragedy? There is evil. There is hatred. There is good that triumphs in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances. God is still God, and He is still in control, even when our tear-filled mortal eyes are blind to His presence. And there are still lessons to be learned. As Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”