Friday, September 11, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

      Stolen Sacred Stories
 Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

Last spring my husband and I traveled to New York City; while we were there we visited the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Like most Americans, I can vividly recall that tragic morning and what I was doing. What made it worse was the fact that we had family living in NYC. (After a very stressful day of being unable to get through to them, we later learned they were fine.)

Before entering the museum we walked around the sacred grounds, circling the twin reflecting pools with their beautiful waterfalls. As I ran the palm of my hand over a few of the names, what came to me was the fact that each victim had had their own unfinished story... it had been stolen.

By the time we entered the museum and found our way to the Memorial Hall I was already wiping the tears from my eyes. This quote by the poet Virgil reminded me that in the hearts and minds of the victims' families and friends - and all Americans - they will never be forgotten: No day shall erase you from the memory of time.

This is the Last Column that was removed from Ground Zero. It is thirty-six feet tall and weighs fifty-eight tons. It was removed from the World Trade Center recovery site on May 2, 2002 in a solemn ceremony. It had been signed by numerous first responders, recovery workers, volunteers, and victims' relatives. The heartfelt words inscribed on the column are a poignant tribute to the lives that were lost.

However, what hit me the hardest was the Slurry Wall that is next to the Last Column in the museum's Foundation Hall. It is a retaining wall from the foundation of the original World Trade Center that survived the devastation on Sept. 11, 2001.
This monument was extremely moving to both my husband and to me. Its raw beauty, and the knowledge that I was standing on sacred ground, was something I'll never forget.

As we began to leave the memorial grounds, we walked over to The Survivor Tree. This pear tree was something I'd learned about and was anxious to see. I was surprised to discover its diminutive size. After being severely damaged on that horrendous day, how had it managed to recover? For me this tree represents not only resilience and rebirth, but the strange way that in a catastrophe there are almost always extraordinary stories of survival.

Since last May I've had time to reflect on my visit to the 911 Memorial Museum, and what still stays with me is the fact that there is tremendous, abiding pain for the families and friends of the victims to endure - that they will always endure. However, the victims are gone forever. Their lives - and stories - will never be fully realized. When I ponder on the fact that I am still alive, able to love my family and friends, and can scribble down my stories, I feel so incredibly grateful.

Whether or not you are a writer, you still have your own human story. It might seem boring, or stressful, or unimaginably painful, but you're alive; you have the ability to choose your path - your story - everyday.

As writers, we have the right, and the responsibility, to allow the ink to flow from our pens onto the pages of our manuscripts. If you have trouble getting motivated to write, think of the victims of 911: Choose a name and write in their honor. Remember: their stories were stolen. Maybe if we all do that we are honoring them, and in a spiritual way, they are still becoming our muses for the tales we tell.


  1. What a great opportunity that you got to have! Very powerful. Good food for thought, thanks. :)