A Prayer for the Healing of America's Soul
Something powerful has emerged from the scar in the earth formerly known as ground zero.
For the past 10 years, this site has slowly been transformed from the smoldering, dark pit of destruction it became on that fateful day in September, to a place of beauty, peace and reflection.
Today, the ashes of the fallen towers have been recycled and transformed into a source of nourishment -- fertilizer for new life. A new chapter in our collective healing and transformation has begun. We have arrived once again at a place in the road, where the road turns.
We've been here before, but last time around we fell asleep and missed the turn. We had the opportunity back then, in choosing our response to the terrorist attacks, to build upon the unity that emerged from the rubble. Instead, we succumbed to fear and sought justice at the hands of violence. In so doing, we lost our way.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and our response to them, marked the beginning of a deep, collective soul descent for America and her people. In an Op Ed article in the New York Times this week, Paul Krugman called the past decade a "shameful chapter" in our history and has been pummeled, largely by the right wing media and politicians, for speaking to something we all intuitively know and carry in our bones.
While I agree with Krugman in principle, I see the process in a slightly different context. I believe each of us comes here with a purpose and that purpose is to carry out the soul's agenda. And just as every human being has an individual soul, we're also part of a larger collective soul, the soul of humanity, which expresses itself through us, as us, and throughout the cosmos in which we live.
As a country, America too has a soul, born into the "being of nationhood" on July 4, 1776, after fighting and winning a war against its mothership, declaring its self to be an independent, sovereign state. America was created as the fulfillment of its founders vision; to be a beacon of freedom, liberty and justice, illuminating the way for those who sought to find a new land and a new life.
Two hundred thirty-five years later, America -- now in adulthood -- has lost sight of her vision and purpose; and has sold out her values to the highest bidder. And in losing hold of her vision, America too, has lost her way.
One way or another, the soul will have its way with us, individually and collectively. As we lost our way as a country, we entered a soul descent. Knowing its own agenda, even if we haven't yet become privy to that information at the conscious level, the soul is a dedicated servant to its purpose.
America's soul has descended. Ten years into the process, it's time to ask: Have we reached the point at which the only way out is through, and our journey back to the light has begun?
Have we suffered enough? Have we faced up, as a nation, to what we've created in these last 10 years? Is it time for us to make the turn and chart a new course? Is it now our time to change course and head towards a more loving and compassionate future?
We have healing to do. And while it might be tempting to turn our backs and look away from the dark times we've come through, we will never truly heal until we've fully faced up to, and acknowledged, what our actions have caused. This is where I think Paul Krugman gets it right.
It is a time for reckoning and reconciliation with ourselves and the world.
We have dishonored the promise of America and lost our moral authority in the world. We are no longer a nation who can upbraid other countries for failing to uphold human rights. We have sought justice at the hands of violence and in our wake, left behind the wheels of a broken system.
I was in Manhattan last week. I arrived in the driving rain, riding in on the tail of Hurricane Irene. With the ground already near saturation levels from tropical storm, Katia, Manhattan was water logged,
overflowing with the toxins of the past 10 years. But I could also feel New York intensely attempting to move beyond the decade-old tragedy of Sept. 11, and struggling to get back to the light.
Last Sunday, the morning of Sept. 11, I was walking to my meeting at 8:46 AM. At that minute, church bells began to toll throughout the city. It was the moment, 10 years ago, of the first plane crashing into the north tower. I happened to be passing a church at that exact moment. Its bells stopped me in my tracks.
They weren't the normal church bells. These bells rang slowly, softly and mournfully. The city was quiet. I stopped on the sidewalk and spent a moment in silence, and said a prayer for the souls of those lost on that day and in the wars since. I was sobered by the experience.
On Sept. 12, the 9/11 Memorial opened its doors to the general public, and the healing has begun. America finally has a place to grieve. And grieve we must. When last we passed this way on Sept. 12, 2001, we stood at this same turn in the road and chose from fear.
But we could choose again; and this time, choose, not from being fearful, but choose from the wisdom gained over the last 10 years. Choose from a renewed commitment to being the country we set out to be and actually stand for the values we proclaim to uphold as set out by our founders.
Let this time be the beginning of a new way forward. Let us gather up the wisdom gained from our suffering and the suffering we've caused others. Let us render up our grief and acknowledge our trespasses. Let us no longer be victims.
Let us make the turn this time, staying true to the ideals upon which the seeds of our national soul were planted. Let us bind up our wounds and humbly exit the landscape of war, knowing that hearts and minds require time and space for healing.
Let us come to see that redemption lies in our willingness to make amends with each other, to become a unified nation again, the United States of America. Let us learn to respect our differences and honor our common ground. Let our actions be a reflection of our highest good, and may we be a purveyor of goodness in the world.
Let us respect our fellow nations while being a model of the democratic ideals we hold as our foundation. Let us no longer walk and talk with the kind of bravado that took us down this dark road 10 years ago. Let us humbly take our place as a partner in the pantheon of nations. Let us acknowledge and end this chapter of darkness and find our way once again back to the light. Let us once again be like the Statue of Liberty, steadfast, standing tall, holding aloft the light of liberty, freedom and justice for all.
If nothing else over these past 10 years, my own journey through our collective darkness has shown me that life is not to be taken for granted. And so I celebrate this new chapter, begun on Sept. 12 and extending into infinity. May we be worthy stewards of the possibilities we hold in the palms of our hands.
On a personal note, I have missed you these past few weeks. I have been busy reaping the harvest of summer's bounty and preparing myself for the coming days of autumn, having recognized my own soul's journey as approaching the threshold that begins the early days of autumn in my life. It is a time of sweet sorrow, of a pithy awareness of the shortening of time, of an abundant bounty of gratitude, of acceptance and forgiveness -- of love and letting go.
More on the seasons of life in a coming post. Meanwhile, thanks for being here. Please feel free to leave a comment, and register your thoughts on healing America's soul. And while you're at it, stop by my personal blog and website: Rx For The Soul.
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Blessings on the path.