When Remembrance Gets Personal

Reposting from a couple of years ago…because it’s important to remember.

Since I was in New York for a conference during the week of the twelfth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack I was “hesitantly eager” to visit the September 11 Memorial.  Upon arrival, the air was crisp and the sky was bright- much like that fateful day twelve years ago.  The upward view of the new World Trade Center tower keenly activated my fear of heights, so  I decided to walk around the memorial pools.

0913131530 I felt sad for the victims and families, but I did not know any of them personally- so my remembrance was rather general in nature.

As I walked by the second pool, my eyes caught sight of a small American flag embedded inside one of the engraved letters (of a victim’s name) in the surrounding wall. 0913131526a  A letter, protected by a plastic sleeve, was attached to this flag.  Curious, I went over close enough to read the letter.   A picture adorned the top of the page followed by these words:

Dear Donald,

   Your children and I miss you more and more each day.   Donald (14) plays soccer, golf and drums in his first year of high school.  Lara (14) continues to dance and sing. She was selected to be in the select choir.  Connor (11) looks just like you and loves the ocean.  He has the same passion for body boarding as you did.  They speak of you often and wish you were here to see them grow up.  As for me, I am very busy running around getting them to all their activities.  I miss our life together.  Until we meet again.

                                                                                                                                                Love, your wife Jacqueline


On the other side of the letter was another picture with this message:

Every year on your birthday your niece, nephew and children throw a wreath in the ocean in Montauk.  This was your favorite place.  Everyone misses you. 

By this time, the lump in my0913131527a throat was uncomfortable and the tears welled up in my eyes.  My heart ached for this young wife and mother, who apparently had two-year-old twins and was pregnant with a son when this horrific event happened.  Suddenly, remembrance went from “history” to “personal.”

This morning, as I worshipped with my church family and as the communion trays were passed,  I thought through some familiar scriptures on remembrance.   My mind went to the letter to Donald as I reflected on how remembrance becomes personal only when names, emotions and memories are attached to an event we are remembering.

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are merely historical events until they are attached to someone whose love captures our hearts. When this happens remembrance becomes personal and revolutionizes the way we think and how we live.

I prayed silently as if I were writing him a letter of remembrance.  In this silent letter I tried to somehow express my appreciation for what he has done for me…telling him how much his life, death and resurrection has changed me and how personal he is to me.  I owe the joy I have found in my life to his example, sacrifice, power and words.  My marriage, family, purpose and peace would not be possible without his complete involvement in my life.

It’s so easy to walk around life focusing on distractions that seem to loudly call my name – and forget that everything I hold important stems from a personal relationship with the one who has changed my life forever.

If my remembrance of God isn’t personal, then Jesus will become a distant historical event observed in a museum rather than a current life changing, joy producing relationship.

As I communed with God this morning I thought of Luke 22:19.    And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

How personal and thankful is your remembrance?

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  1. Lori Seavey

    I just sat down with my cup of coffee to read my emails and “My Morning Cup” popped up. How appropriate. : ). I love how you can bring everything back to Jesus. My eyes teared up reading the 9/11 letters. You started my day keeping my focus where it needs to be.

  2. Robin Williams

    Thanks, Jeanie, you put into beautiul words, the same feelings I had as we walked the memorial together; you took them much more deeply. Thanks for helping me today! Love, robin

  3. Gloria Baird

    Always love the thoughts you share….and this one was especially heart-tugging!!
    Helps me hold on to how personal our remembrance should be of the most important
    One!! Thankful that we got to go to the 9/11 memorial too — I was especially moved by several names of women and their unborn babies!

  4. Gina YoungGina

    This is such a sad day, but it is so important to reflect and remember all those that died that day and say a prayer for the families who must still deal with the loss… we truly must never forget.


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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