The Day Evil Became Visible

Photo by Wilfredo Lazaro of the Memorial Lights on 2011
Photo by Wilfredo Lazaro of the Memorial Lights on 2011 with the new World Trade Center building in red, white and blue colors under construction

What does this day mean to you at this point eleven years later? Each year I look back at what Deborah and I were doing on this day in wonder and amazement, remembering details I would never remember on any ordinary day. Every year I look for photos I took on that day of us watching the news hour after hour from Philadelphia, PA where our motorhome was parked, and every year I am amazed that I didn’t take one single photo. Not only did I not take a single photo that day, but I didn’t take another photo until we landed in the Cayman Islands on October 1st a few weeks later. I had been a photographer for almost 10 years at that point, taking thousands upon thousands of photos, and yet on this one day, and for weeks to come all I could do was watch things unfolded on the news. Now, we see photos of two beams of light shooting into the night sky where buildings use to be.

This was the day I presume for many that evil became visible. Even though the fall of man took place long ago, for many of us who often choose to ignore the evil in the world, this day it was impossible to ignore. For me and my friends growing up in the 80’s and 90’s we knew nothing of this type of evil in the world. We were past the great wars of Nazi Germany and Pearl Harbor, and beyond Vietnam. Sure I remember Bush senior sending some planes over to Iraq, but that seemed to be over quickly, and besides, we seemed to have won. We knew nothing of the true existence of pure evil that comes from Satan out of hatred for others.

That reality changed of course on September 11, 2001. Now more than a decade later I can still turn on the news and see the events unfold exactly as they did when I was watching them years ago since networks rerun the coverage over and over again, thinking somehow those who were old enough to remember will have forgotten.

Today we think of pure evil and Satan as being those terrorist who flew planes into our buildings and killed “innocent” people, but we all posses the evil of every sin ever known to man. To Jesus and the Apostles the evil of Satan was much closer than some unknown terrorist, the evil was from not looking to God for everything. Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23).

I don’t know what this day means for you at this point, for me it is still a day of remembering those who died, and that yes, evil does exist, and it is ever-present, and closer than we would ever care to think, only squelched by turning our hearts to God. If you look closely there are some amazing stories of people who turned to God during those horrific days, and some day I really hope to visit the memorials in Washington and New York.

[An interesting site for research and photos of that day is the 911 digital archive.]

Photo of the Cross at Ground Zero Not Soon Forgotten

We were in Philadelphia Pennsylvania that day, but not long after we happen to be in New York and I snapped this shot of the cross in the steel beams still standing at ground zero. At this point they had the streets cleared and fabric fencing around almost everything, but through a few holes in the fence you could just make out this cross. It was a sight no one could forget.

We haven’t been back since, but someday we will go back to visit the memorial. Each year the anniversary comes and the world still continues to change, sometimes in such dramatic fashion, but September 11th always seems to be such a surreal day.

The Economy, Big 3 Auto Bailout, and the Church // Part 3

This is the last and final, part 3 of this particular topic.  If you missed the previous two posts, check them out at part 1 and part 2.

The Church: A Response to a Bad Economy?

I spend a good bit of my day running around on the Internet, and many places I stop are with people of faith, churches, organizations and groups trying to raise funds, in a “bad economy”.  There are usually two responses.  One (to me) Biblical, and one not.  One based on fear, the other based on belief.  One worried about their 401k balance, the other excited to see a time when the need for the church among the un-churched is growing.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

What happened just after September 11th 2001?  People ran to the church.  Some because they were scared, some because they didn’t know where else to turn, some came back after a long time away, but the number of people attending church (doesn’t mean it was meaningful by the way) went up dramatically.  What makes hitting people where it really counts (in their 401k’s) any different as far as possibilities within the church to help others?

I took this photo below at “Ground Zero” a few months after the terrorist attacks on New York city.  They still had not torn down the last few damaged buildings that are outside the photo here, and this “cross” was still standing as well.  It was incredible to me to see a cross, carved out of mangled steel, standing above all the mess that was ground zero.  It was an unreal time of horror, terror, and despair in our country, and yet, Jesus didn’t change, the world did.

Cross on I-40 in Oklahoma

My church at the time in 2001 (a 35,000 member church) was trying to decide if they should start a $40 million building campaign in the middle of the 911 economic turmoil.  They decided to follow God and not the economy and great things were done.  Why should the church back down when times are bad?  Be responsible yes, but fearful????

People are scared, people are fearful.  Why?  Uncertainty.  If we are Believers… why are we living in fear and uncertainty?  Because we can’t buy the normal $500-$1000 of Christmas presents this year?  We have the most certain thing in the world.  A risen Savior.

Cross from the Twin Towers Wreckage

If you like the cross as a symbol you need to drive out I-40, past Amarillo, past Oklahoma City, and look at one of the largest crosses I have personally ever seen (first photo above).  It is a magnificant symbol right on the interstate for all to see.  We should be like this cross on I-40 in Oklahoma.  Big, bold, tall, ready to reach out and help those who are hurting and searching.  We should be excited to be in these “times”, they are new times of new opportunities.  As the Church, let’s not watch this opportunity pass us by and wonder why we didn’t make use of this special time in our history.

Where Were You on September 11, 2001 :: 7 Years Later

Traveling to PA from Texas

It is amazing how fast time goes by.  It is hard to believe that today is the 7th anniversary of September 11, 2001.  It was of course one of those days when we will all remember where we were, what we were doing, and looking back today at what happened on the news, as always happens on each September 11, I was just thinking back to what my wife and I were doing that day, and what was going on in our lives, and what has changed.

A few days before 9-11 we were in Texas, on our way to a convention in Pennsylvania.  We often traveled with David and Georgia (Deborah’s parents) or met them in different campgrounds across the country going to or from a convention.  They would drive their motorhome out to the show where ever it was and help us setup, work the show, and break down afterward.  Here, we met them at a campground in Texas.

On the morning of September 11, 2001 Deborah and I woke up in a Walmart parking lot in Pennsylvania in our RV where we had spent the night.  We were on our way to Philadelphia and stayed, as we normally did, in a Walmart parking lot just a little outside Philadelphia.  As vendors, this was a convention we did each year but in years to follow would become less and less important because of the date (which sometimes fell exactly on 9-11) until the owners of the show finally moved it far away from 9-11.

Anthrax Attack on America

Anthrax Attack on America

I took these two photos of the news while watching the coverage from the back of our RV.  What is interesting to me is, if you look just to the right of the TV, we had already hung an American flag in the window of our RV (and these were huge greyhound bus windows), much like many American’s did at their houses.  We were living in the bus at the time, this was our home and we drove around the country for at least another year or more with that flag handing in the back window (one on each side).

I remember setting up for the show while running out to the motorhome every second I could to try and watch the news.  The show was a terrible one for the vendors as no one wanted to do anything in the way of shopping.  The restaurants in Philadelphia were closed when we would try to eat after the show each night, and we couldn’t wait to get out of there and on to the next city.

To the Grand Cayman Islands and Cayman Brac

It wasn’t but about two weeks later when we took our first plane flight out of the United States into the Cayman Islands.  This was a planned trip, planned months before 9-11 every happened.  We were going with Deborah’s parents, David and Georgia to a rented house on the small island of Cayman Brac.  I can remember every single one of us being very nervous about flying when we had never really be nervous before.  We had talked about canceling our trip, but decided we were going to do what we had planned on doing regardless.

I have very few photos of our trip down to the Cayman Islands.  I was not shooting with any larger format camera at the time and only had a very small (and free) 2mp digital camera from HP, given to me as a type of extra for buying a printer.  These were a few of the shots from that trip.  We sat many hours of that “vacation” inside watching the news coverage of the events at ground zero, it was one of the strangest trips I have taken, but we did enjoy each other’s company.

Deborah in Cayman Brac

Deborah, David, and Georgia in Cayman Brac

Now it is 7 years later and things are much different.  Time has a way of keeping thing moving.  I look at the photo above and remember by mother-in-law who is no longer with us.  In this photo she looks so alive and well, and Deborah and I both miss her.  The four of us in the photo above (counting me who is taking the photo) did so many things together back at that time.  We no longer have the business we had then, and part of it was the effect 9-11 had on the circuit of shows we were vending at for many years.

We now no longer have the bus pictured above that we lived in for more than 5 years.  We have different jobs, live in a different part of the country, have new and different friends, and of course are 7 years older.  One thing I love about blogging is the archives.  You can go back and see what you were doing and how things have changed in your life.  We started blogging in March of 2001, but have very few original posts from that time period, but it is interesting to see how we have grown and changed.

What were you doing on September the 11th, 2001?