September 11, 2001
By PATRICK MARRIN
We are pulled forward into a future we do not want
Come sooner than we feared
Like terror at the thought of judgment
not prepared for this
The scale of this
The loss of it
delivered like a blow
To the fact of who we are.
Taken by surprise, we
This savage, brilliant act of vengeance, asking
Was there some remedy we missed
Some redress that might have
The box-knives in the cockpit,
The jet fuel inferno of office
And those who raced to rescue them?
Retribution lays out its
That soulless satisfaction that always seems
To retrieve its
path home again, but always higher
In a never-ending spiral, fresh victims,
Upon sorrow, fueling its own causes.
Those who now grieve
without this simple cure
Are thrust forward by the collapse of
The assault on symbols that cannot save us
To the colder season
where darkness begs for light --
September to October and November
observance of Endtimes and the Advent of new life
When only altars can bear
the ache and longing
That permeate our waking hours and sleepless
As days grow shorter, it is then that people gather
tongue and race huddle to rekindle hope
The ancient songs and common symbols
Rekindle and return, whispered words that reassert
dwells within our damaged human circle
And love is still stronger than
Against so primitive a need, in this one protected space
dare ponder the unthinkable: What world is ending?
Is it ours? What prayer
will forge our sorrow
Into compassion for the work ahead?
What grace will
give us back tomorrow
Where mercy and justice might embrace?
wept and saw the temple fall
He took his own place among the victims
await a second coming, where tears are wiped away.
Apocalyptic signs cover
innocent and sinner same
With smoke and ash, terror and rage.
The Son of
Man, that stunning future we resisted
Is coming then and now and once
These images describe the urgency, the
Inevitability of his promised presence in our hour of
Like a thief in the night
Who breaks in upon our
normalcy, the illusion we are safe
And steals the ground beneath our
The changed course that marks our fate.
We will never be the
Going out like children under bright familiar skies
changed, older, shock-eyed, trembling.
But also this
Like a woman in labor
Whose time of anguish gives
birth to new life
The long sorrow that yields to new worlds
hope that what we -- one generation --
Could only conceive but could not
Others will do, must do.
A birth of new hope
Not in the possibility
But its necessity -- our end or our beginning.
The sowing we
Patrick Marrin is editor of Celebration, the ecumenical
worship resource published by the National Catholic Reporter Publishing
National Catholic Reporter, September 21,