by Father Mark Goldasich
Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
That day is forever etched in my memory. I found out about it initially from a filling station clerk in Tonganoxie, who told me that a plane just crashed into one of those big buildings in New York.
By the time I got to The Leaven that day, I learned that things were worse, much worse. Our whole staff was dumbfounded as we watched events unfold on a small borrowed TV in our office.
It was deadline day at the paper and whatever we had scheduled for the front page was no longer relevant or important in light of the terrorist attacks. In a state of shock, we cobbled together a new front page and related stories, as much as was available at the time.
This issue of The Leaven comes out on the 19th anniversary of 9/11. For the last seven years, I’ve reread a short paragraph that stops me in my tracks and causes me to reflect. I’ve not been able to find out who originally wrote this, but its message continues to haunt me.
I’ve adapted the year to reflect 2020, but otherwise have left the message intact: “At this moment (Sept. 10) 19 years ago, millions of Americans went to bed quietly, with no thought that the next morning their world would change forever. That night, hundreds packed flight bags they would not live to open. Thousands slept with loved ones for the last time. One never knows what a new day has in store. Let us live each day to the fullest, and never miss a chance to let those dearest to us know of our love for them. So tonight, if you have someone in your life that you love, tell them.”
I don’t see these powerful words as something depressing, but rather as a challenge to always see the “big picture.” Many times, we get so lost in the minutiae of life — those daily tasks or minor irritations — that we fail to live each day to the fullest and miss countless chances to tell people we love them.
Naturally — and sadly — as the immediacy of 9/11 faded, so did the sense of unity and a common grief. Unfortunately, as we continue to struggle with COVID-19, there seems to be no common grief for the victims of this pandemic nor for their families. And the striving together for the common good seen after 9/11 has devolved into a selfish chant of “my rights” and “my freedoms.”
While I believe there is much to ponder in that 9/11 quote above, I’d amend it to say that we should express our love not only for those dearest to us, but to all our “neighbors,” who Jesus reminds us we should love as ourselves. And not just tell them with words but show them with deeds.
I’m convinced that the “my rights” and “my freedoms” folks are a vocal minority. Each day, I witness instead the generosity of so many. In this issue of The Leaven, for example, you can see couples living selflessly for one another and their families as they celebrate their golden anniversaries; a young friend leading another young friend to becoming a Catholic; new permanent deacons finding creative ways to serve their parishes; dedicated volunteers who continue to feed hungry people at the St. Mary’s Food Kitchen; and Scouts working to make school safer in the pandemic.
Last issue, I asked you to consider saying to people: “I think you are wonderful!” Did you have a chance to do that? If so, then keep on surprising others this week with that sentiment. And if you didn’t do it yet, today is the perfect day to start.
Loving others is the way to live life to the fullest. So, let’s get out there and work at it . . . for the love of God.