Far Away

This is how I feel today. Far away. In Maine, if you are not from here (meaning that your mother's mother was born in this state), you are from away. I will always be from away. But, today I just feel so far away. It really started yesterday when I was struggling to write my sermon for the funeral that I officiated at today. I didn't realize that my own grief about this day was getting in the way. I didn't realize that what was making this endeavor so diffcult might simply be that I'm far from NYC today.

There were no worship services in my area to memoralize the day. There were no churches open for prayer, including the one in which I serve. But, I wanted this. I desparately wanted an intentional space for this kind of prayer. Instead, I held the hands of four daughters who buried their father today while I tried not to convey my own grief. Instead, I stood in the rain and commended this 90 year old man into the earth. Instead, I read Ecclesiastes 3 and wondered what season this was.

I wasn't there when it happened. I was living in London at the time. At 3 PM, I was urged to turn on the TV to see the destruction of my home city. I spent the next several hours trying to assure the safety of my mother who worked in Midtown. She was with friends uptown. She was fine. But, I was scared. And I just wanted to go home. Instead, I went to Italy. On September 12, I wandered the streets of Florence (another home for me) as the reality of this disaster followed me through the streets. I was with my Italian family there. And for the most part, I felt safe and loved. Perhaps this is what I miss today. Perhaps this is what I miss for all of us -- for the Iraqis, Afghanis, Arabs and others who are mistreated because of our country's racist ignorance. Perhaps this is what grieves me today. It all seems so far away. New York is too far. Peace is too far. Understanding is too far. And though it grieves me to say it, hope seems too far away.


Magdalene6127 said...

I know what you mean, about wanting some way to mark the day. Thank you for sharing who and where you were that day. (((Pastor Peters))).

LittleMary said...

i think we have to keep telling the story of where we were, it is powerful for me to tell it and to hear others. sending you love from this land that is just as lonely.

Erica said...

I'm not a blogger, just a lurker. Your words are very touching. Your sense of place, strong. May I share my story? Six years ago yesterday, I baptized a woman in her living room. She was so very devastated, begging for this act of redemption, rebirth. I stood next to the senior pastor, who had never "sprinkled" before. (My denomination practices baptism by immersion.) The television was of course on, and she asked if she should turn it off, though it was obvious that was the last thing she wanted to do. My not very pastoral first thought was, "Well, duh, YES!" But thankfully senior pastor gently suggested she just put it on mute. Which she did, however reluctantly. And I poured the waters of baptism over her waiting head. And I spoke the words I have been taught to say. And I raised my eyes and saw the image of the towers collapsing, yet again. And I was so glad the television was on. There, in a cluttered living room, God's grace, something I usually have infinite amounts of trouble with, was present, and alive, against a background of hatred and terror and utter dispair. My breath caught in my throat and tears welled in my eyes.

Earlier that day, my mom called, as so many mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, and of course friends did. She was crying. I wasn't. My first thought -- was it my dad's brother? (My dad died when I was a baby -- his brother is all that is left of that side of the family, all that I know.) He lives in Bedford NY and for years had been a volunteer fireman. No -- he was fine. Mom couldn't understand why I wasn't more emotional. I felt like I couldn't be. I felt like there were too many people looking to me for strenth, and stability. Me. Who knew. Then, after a prayer service we had, standing in a line greeting folks, someone decided I looked like I needed a hug. I lost count of how many hugs I got that evening. I went home, sat in my comfy chair, and cried -- the scents of so many perfumes and lotions and after shaves and soaps clinging to me. I felt embraced and held. Again with God's grace. Thank you letting me share! My thoughts are with you!

Songbird said...


Being authentic in our grief while caring for others in theirs is both a challenge and a gift. I'm not surprised you felt far away.

Rev. Ez said...

i forgot that you were out of the country that day. me too, i was in israel. i'd only been to nyc once before sept. 11th and still felt far away. like my home (the states) had changed and i wouldn't know it when i returned. little did i know that less than a year later i'd move to nyc... and six years later, you're far away again.