Grace is the butterfly that lands on your nose



On September 11th, eleven years ago, I know exactly where I was at 9 a.m. Actually, it was 6 a.m. because I was living outside of San Francisco at the time.  I was supposed to be in Boston. At the last minute, my boss told me I really didn’t need to be there, so I changed my plans. I had been in L.A. the day before. I did this all of the time, as did my colleagues. Getting on a plane was like riding the bus.

My husband was taking my son to school, and I was drinking coffee while watching the news. With my trip cancelled, I had an open calendar, which up until that time was only something I fantasized about. I was debating taking an impromptu day off, or maybe cleaning some long overdue projects off my desk. Until the news captured my attention.

One of the Twin Towers was on fire. They weren’t sure what was going on. I called my husband to make sure his parents were still in upstate New York instead of the city.  While we were talking, the second plane hit. Soon after, we heard about the Pentagon. All flights were suspended. I checked on my boss and my staff. I called the teams I had in the field. Everyone was safe.

But I don’t think any of us were the same again.

I didn’t want to get my son from school. I figured he was safe and sheltered from the news coverage and the sense of fear that permeated the atmosphere. Not knowing where else to go, and not wanting to stay home and watch any more, I went to church.

I’m not a religious person. I have broad spiritual beliefs which aren’t easily captured by any one denomination. It’s a mishmash of Eastern and Western practices I refer to as Episcabuditarianism. Raised as a Catholic, I’ve developed a distrust of religious organizations, despite being involved with them from time to time, driven by a need for ritual and community.

But going to a place of worship felt right. I lit a candle, and prayed for a while, and ran into the minister on the way out. We sat on the steps. We were both emotionally raw. I felt lost. He felt angry.

I still don’t know how to define the nature or essence of God. I can’t put it in a book, or a box, but if I had to, it would be two people sitting on a concrete step, admitting they don’t understand how the world works, and finding peace in each other’s company. So, like happiness and some variant of Law and Order, Grace is always with us. We just have to find the right channel.

So on this anniversary of 9/11 (or the day after) I hope you find it in your own world.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by David Yu © 2010 Creative Commons


11 comments on “Grace is the butterfly that lands on your nose

  1. Jane Herndon says:

    Beautiful and moving!

  2. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for posting!

    • angelpoint says:

      I think we all remember were we were on that day!. My Mom and I were in the Newark airport. She remained so calm, I panic and said we “have to get out of here”! We witnessed the first tower falling. There is no describing the black smoke. Utter shock. My husband thought I was on the United flight that crashed in Shanksville. I forgot to tell him we had changed airlines. I put him in neverland for about 4 hours because I couldn’t get through to his office. When I did, there were shouts of joy that my Mom and I were alive. They patched me through to David and he immediately told me he was on his way to get us and come home. I told him there is no way he could get through–his brain said, “Oh, yes I will”–I didn’t even know where I was. A Holiday Inn somewhere in Newark. He found us, driving over medium strips, breaking laws–but he found us. It was eerie driving back but we were thanking God that we were safe and praying for those that were not. Will I remember 9/11–always and a couregous husband that would never abandon his wife. That’s saying something! I listen to the news each anniversary and shed tears of sorrow for those that were lost and I shed tears for those that keep this country safe. We do take too much for granted.

  3. Veronica Roth says:

    Oh Jeannine. That’s a very moving post. I bet everyone remembers that moment…that day. Yesterday I was on a 10hour flight and the date was really stuck in my mind. How lucky that you found solace with the minister on those steps.

  4. Lara Britt says:

    Grace…what religions of man point to when they are their best. Grace and compassion. Nice to commune with a fellow East-West dancer. My guess is the census count would be high if that were an official option on the forms.

    • I took one of those “What religion are you” surveys, and it told me to make up my mind already….

      • A timely reminder given yesterday’s events in Boston – so sad!

        As for the religion comments above, I made the mistake of checking into a hospital for knee surgery as a kid without declaring a religion. They couldn’t seem to manage the process without one of those little boxes checked. I had to laugh when I realized it did serve a purpose after all as they would send someone in to counsel you and make sure you were OK. By the end of that week, I had been visited by a representative from every denomination known to man.

      • We moved to Virginia from Boston just a few years ago, and it’s time that we hold dear in our hearts. What happened yesterday really knocked me off my feet, and I’m still feeling it today.

  5. Anne Kimball says:

    Very timely post, Jeannine, after what happened in Boston. It all leaves one quaking, no??

    Thanks for linking this up with the TALU….

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