This week begins on a date that is etched in our memories, 11 September. It was on this day that the word ‘terror’ took on a whole new meaning and came knocking on everyone’s doors. Today, we are accustomed to breaking news announcing yet another terror attack. People’s lives have changed forever because of that day and its aftermath. We remember today the many victims of terror attacks around the globe. We remember the people affected by these attacks and we pray that someday all things will be made new and ‘all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’.
This week, as we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows, we remember the many people who have been affected by heavy rains and flooding in South Asia, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the Americas and the earthquake in Mexico. We remember the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar. For those affected by these natural disasters and human persecution, the shadow of the cross is dark. They understand the horror of the cross. To many, it makes no sense and many must be asking the question, ‘Why me? Why us?’
The cross, to many, is a symbol of horror and death, yet, we as Christians recognise it as the one symbol of commitment and discipleship, of new life and hope, of constant care and everlasting love. Mary endured the sorrow of watching her son die on the cross, and she rejoiced in the Resurrection. It is the hope of new life that lifts the shadow of the cross.
Richard Rohr writes:
Darkness is always present alongside the light. Pure light blinds; shadows are required for our seeing. We know the light most fully in contrast with its opposite—the dark. There is something that can only be known by going through ‘the night sea journey’ into the belly of the whale, from which we are spit up on an utterly new shore.
At the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a single Callery pear tree surrounded by white oaks. It was found amidst the rubble at Ground Zero. Its branches were broken and charred, its roots were severely damaged and all that remained of it was a stump no higher than eight feet. Today, after years of rehabilitation, it stands as a living testament to ‘resilience, survival and rebirth’. It is known as the Survivor Tree. What might we learn from it today? Does it not whisper to you of resurrection? Does it not shout at you about new life emerging from apparent death? Does not its shadow remind you that we need the darkness to appreciate the light?
SIGNIFICANT DAYS THIS WEEK: Remembering 9/11 (Sept 11); Exaltation of the Cross (Sept 14); Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept 15); International Day for Democracy (Sept 15); Selichot (Sept 16)
READ: What the Survivor Tree at Ground Zero can teach us
WATCH: The story of The Survivor Tree
CONSIDER: Spend a few moments in prayer today remembering the people affected by floods, hurricanes and the earthquake. Raise your voice in solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.