My thoughts were in the Middle East even before I caught a glimpse of the smoking towers on TV. I traveled regularly to Jerusalem and the surrounding villages, as well as cities in Jordan, Egypt and Kyrgyzstan, because I worked for a relief and development organization with projects and staff in these areas.
That fateful morning I was in my apartment in Chandler, Arizona, getting ready for work, but a part of me was already at the office planning for my next overseas trip and that day’s correspondence with my beloved colleagues and the Arab families we worked with.
“Joan, come here. Quickly,” shouted Richard from the living room. We both stared at the television screen in disbelief. Time seemed to stand still. We sat on the sofa and held hands in silence. What was happening?
Finally we made it to the office. Emails and calls of sympathy from our Middle Eastern friends poured in. They expressed their sorrow with words like “tragedy, pain, sorry, senseless, unbelievable.” They grieved with us. For American’s loss.
When I talked to my three-year old granddaughter that day, she asked, “Why do bad men throw airplanes into tall buildings, Grandma?”
Why, indeed!? In the days and weeks that followed, I found no adequate response.
As usual, I spoke to groups about our work among the poor Arab families,about the schools we supported in remote villages and the churches we empowered in many cities and towns. Always being careful how I shared the amazing good-news stories because I didn’t want to endanger the lives of those working there. Still don’t.
Today as I recall that horrific act on what started out as an ordinary day nine years ago, my memories drop with a thud into my heavy heart. I can’t get my granddaughter’s question out of my mind: Why do bad men throw airplanes into tall buildings?
God, help us. We all need You.