To be honest, I'd had enough of the American networks' 9/11 anniversary coverage after about 10 minutes. I think it was the piano accompaniment to the victim profiles. Also there's the ironclad rule that every news story, no matter how unprecedented, eventually becomes a story about how the media cover the story.
As I started up my truck to head home the radio came on. I am a devoted listener to NPR, but as soon as I realized what I was playing I turned it off. I just could not handle any more 9/11 talk. I dug around in the console and found a CD of a Sunday morning service that I had not listened to. (I play guitar with the band on Sunday mornings, so I get a copy of the recordings mostly for vanity’s sake. Very spiritual, huh?) I plugged it in and cranked it up, just to take my mind off of the obvious. I hit the freeway and headed home, not really thinking about anything.
Little Rock is not a showy town. We are Deep South and we prefer to keep to ourselves, thank you. There are no globalization protests in Arkansas. There are no spontaneous memorials. There are biscuits and gravy and blues festivals, but that is about as emotional as we get in public.
But an amazing scene unfolded. As I passed underneath the Pine Street overpass, there was this guy in an eagle T-shirt, jean shorts, and a baseball cap standing up on the guardrail with a hefty American flag. He had a proud grin on his face and he was waving that damn thing around like he was trying to get somebody’s attention. As all of this was happening, on the stereo I noticed Mark Currey sing these lines:
We've been through fire
We’ve been through rain
We've been refined by the power of his name
We've fallen deeper in love with you
You've burned the truth on our lips
Rise up church with broken wings
Fill this place with songs again
Of our God who reigns on high
By His grace again we'll fly
And we’ll shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is savior to all
He is Lord of heaven and earth
I became overwhelmed and my face was hot as if I was blushing. Martin Smith, who is an Englishman, wrote that song in 1995. It has nothing to do with dealing with the aftermath of terrorism, but it has everything to do with the transforming power of God’s healing. I realized that this thing changed all of us, even if we did not notice it happening. That God took a measure of our cynicism and burned it off. That He was able to take this horrible event and change us into something more like him.