September 18, 2011

Looking Back to 9/11, Part 8

This is the eighth installment looking back at commentary and poetry I wrote following the events of September 11, 2001. The seventh installment can be found here.

This post returns us more directly to the events of September 11, 2001. My church had scheduled the beginning of a new Tuesday night program on September 11. That program was cancelled, and a Holy Eucharist service was planned instead. I don’t remember how it came about, but I found myself at the church that afternoon discussing with our rector and organist what hymns would be sung . One of the hymns we chose was “All my hope on God is founded,” which includes this second verse:

Mortal pride and earthly glory,
Sword and crown betray our trust;
Through with care and toil we build them,
Tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour,
Is my temple and my tower.

What I remember most vividly from that service is the Gospel reading. I don’t recall the text that was read, but I remember the geometry of the reading. Directly between the reader at the center of the nave and my choir chair in the chancel was one of the tall altar candles. Two years later, that candle figured prominently in my retelling of what happened that night.

My poem “9/11 Memorial” and additional commentary can be found on my Web site here.

9/11 Memorial

by Lionel E. Deimel
July 10, 2003

The staff scrambled to assemble a service,
not knowing who was affected,
not knowing, really, what had happened.
I watched the congregation from my usual place in the choir,
saw a somber crowd performing the familiar ritual,
trying to understand the utterly unfamiliar.
I watched a priest prepare the elements,
flanked by the tall altar candles,
just as I had watched a priest read the Gospel from the center of the nave—
watched through a flame atop a taper reaching skyward,
giving off waves of heat through which the words shimmered.

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