There are a handful of days in one's life that are remembered vividly for a lifetime. For me, this day nine years ago is one of them.
My birthday took on new significance that day. A brutal, horrible significance, and yet, also taught me an important lesson about life.
The capacity we have for hurting one another is thankfully surpassed by the capacity we have for helping one another, especially when tragedy strikes. This seems to be true on the small scale as well as the large. When death strikes in a family, the family gathers and supports its members. When tragedy strikes a nation, the nation gathers its strength and becomes strong again. These dynamics have been seen throughout history, and are no real surprise.
But on that day, I began to have the first inkling that my life was not about me. I didn't fully appreciate this idea until years later, when I viewed Fr. Bob Barron's video Untold Blessing: Three Paths to Holiness. But it was a blessing of sorts to have that revelation, even if it was unpleasant to suffer the majority of my birthday in shock of what had happened in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
Now my birthday is bittersweet. The joy of having lived another year is tempered by the profound knowledge of knowing that there are thousands of families who mourn their losses on this day. Thus, my prayers on this day for a blessed year ahead are mixed with prayers for those souls who lost their earthly lives on that day, and for the solace of their families.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. May perpetual light shine upon them.
Just as powerful is the way such an event underscores our own mortality and how we "know not the hour" when our end will come and we will be judged before our God. While I hope and pray that I should grow old with my wife, see my grandchildren and great grandchildren, and have the privilege of a good death surrounded by those I love, I know that my end can come at any time without warning, and I must be prepared at any moment to account for my life.
On that happy note...I am pleased to be here, and have many hopes for the coming year. Today I get to start the Serra Catechetical Institute again, and also start my journey to read the Holy Bible in one year's time.
I look forward to meditating on these and posting some thoughts tomorrow. Until then...