September 11th


Every year I try to reflect and write something meaningful for today. I’m not sure that any of us who were witnesses to the events of 9/11 will be able to just let this day pass unnoticed.

While touring Northern Ireland, I was very much surprised to see a tree and plaque commemorating September 11th. I do understand that many faiths and nations lost people in those attacks. However, I was moved that this wasn’t a remembrance for their own citizens, but in mourning, memorial, and solidarity with us. It is directly across from the Northern Ireland War Memorial, and within the gates of Belfast City Hall.

The text on the plaque reads as follows: This tree was planted by Belfast City Council on 11th September 2002 to commemorate all those who so tragically lost their lives in the horrific events in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania on 11th September 2001 and to mark the special relationship which the City of Belfast enjoys with the United States of America. (c)2017

From Death into Life



There is a line in a hymn, I think it’s sung at funerals or as they’re called in the Catholic church, Mass of Christian Burial. It goes, “from death into life.”

I began attending this celebration of life by accident in one of my early days of attending Mass. I was there, and I couldn’t leave without drawing unnecessary attention to myself, so I remained, hidden in plain sight, in one of the back pews, wishing I was invisible, feeling as though I didn’t belong in such an intimate family gathering. I was, however, wrong – this mass invites the community members, the congregation; to be in communion with the family, to send their loved one on their next journey. I followed the program, I sang along, I prayed, and I found something in that service. I think my first funeral service was for a woman named Dottie. I still have her program in my church papers that I’ve collected and saved.

After that first time, I continued to go to the Rite of Christian Burial when it occurred during the daily mass time. I almost never knew until I arrived at church, and after one or two more, I found great comfort in this Mass.

But I still didn’t get it – that death into life bit.

I could never understand that phrase. How can you go from death into life?

It wasn’t until after my spiritual conversion, and after passing this tree, always on my way to my writing workshop.

On the way to the library, I passed the church adjacent to this tree, and the cemetery that surrounds this tree, and one spring day it was gloriously sunny and bright, and the green leaves had sprouted and grown.

I could see them bright against the white of the siding on the church building; this delicate new growth rising from the fallen tree, its life long thought buried and gone.

This was when I could grasp death into life, life from death, the infinite from finite, everlasting life from our journey on earth.

Now, when I sing the hymn, I picture this tree when I sing death into life.