Last month we shared our appreciation for the wonder of unconditional love. This month Katie adds a new dimension to this message of love, writing about the relationship between Love and Miracles and how, even in times of terror and hate, love transcends and transforms. Karl Menninger further explains, "Love is an element which binds and heals, which comforts and restores, which works what we must call - for now - miracles."
We hope this summer finds you in the midst of those you love, appreciating the small miracles that come our way every day.
Joan, Katie and Meb
Love comes in many forms. Technically, the Summer of Love was back in 1967 and though I was just across the Golden Gate Bridge from the action, I was too young to fully understand or partake. "Love" took on new meaning that summer: Free Love and Make Love Not War became the battle cry of flower wearing hippies. The Greeks differentiate types of love and talk of Eros and Agape; Shakespeare writes of love's incalculable value in his Sonnets. Most of the world's faith traditions elevate Love to the highest of virtues, even to proclaim as John does in the New Testament that God is Love.
2014 is hardly the Summer of Love. ISIS is so horrific that even leaders of Al Qaeda have distanced themselves. Boko Haram, with the kidnapping of nearly 300 school girls, has reigned terror in Nigeria. My younger daughter Allie called several days ago to say, "You can stop worrying Mom, we've decided not to go." She and her husband were headed to the airport in a few hours on their way to Israel. My son-in-law had emigrated as a child and he still has many friends and family there. Their difficult decision was in the wake of the murders of three Israeli teenagers, the subsequent murder of a Palestinian boy and the constant barrage of rockets from Hamas extending their reach to Tel Aviv with retaliatory strikes from Israel. How terribly sad this world can be.
At the end of our talks we often quote Willa Cather: "Where there is great love, there are always miracles." But where is God and Love and Miracles in all of this mayhem and suffering? This is not a new question. In fact, it is the question for anyone whose faith is shaken by the state of the world.
The day after Allie called about her change of plans, I went with friends who were visiting NYC to the newly opened 9/11 Memorial Museum, a powerful experience I highly recommend. I wasn't expecting to chase any miracles there, but at the end of our formal tour, I asked the guide how many people were in the twin towers when the terror began to unfold.
"There were 17,000 in the buildings at the time. So, roughly 14,000 were able to escape."
But then, he added, "The amazing thing is there was an unusual combination of factors that day that meant thousands of people who would normally have been in the buildings at the time weren't. The night before, the NY Giants played on Monday Night Football and lost badly to the Denver Broncos. People are up late on the east coast for these games and some of them either came in late or not at all. It was also Primary Tuesday. Some went to vote first and also arrived late. And, it was the first day of school, so some parents dropped their children at school that day. They didn't arrive on time either."
My husband Jim was supposed to be at the towers that morning, but wasn't. His was a story like so many others - of choices that seemed innocuous and turned out to be about life and death.
After the tour, we went to the more difficult parts of the museum. We saw the faces of those murdered that day, heard the voices of loved ones from hijacked airplanes and towering infernos, the tragedy made personal at every turn. We saw a movie that spoke about Hope and Strength rising from the ashes, and heard about First Responders going up as others were coming down, about ordinary citizens like a young man with a red bandana who stayed behind so others might escape. At the intersection of hate and terror, Love triumphed.
Going 7 stories down into the wound of 9/11, I expected a painful reminder of a tragic day. I didn't expect to come away with a better understanding of how in moments like this humanity connects, transcending barriers of culture, language and even religion. If God is love, then striving to love "greatly" is our highest calling as many on 9/11 were able to do.
Maybe that is what Willa Cather meant, that miracles relate to Love because Love relates to God, that this ideal pushes us to be more than we are, transforming us and others, leaving a lasting testament. No wonder her words of wisdom resonate whenever we gather and consider how a miracle experience alters who we are. (Katie)
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