Though born in Chicago, I grew up in Fairfield Connecticut, not far from New York City. My parents were transplants from South Dakota, so, of course, everything about NYC was exciting to them. Once we had settled in from the transfer from the Midwest (my father was a metallurgical engineer) we started taking day trips to New York. One of my fondest memories is of going out to the Statue of Liberty on a foggy morning, watching the astoundingly beautiful monument emerge from the fog as we drew close to it, the golden flame in contrast to the gray drizzle. As I grew older, of course, I wanted to live there. Who wouldn’t? Fairfield was tiny, the area had nothing but a charming “seashore” (the Long Island Sound) strewn with seaweed and mussels. I also sensed that New York City had a darkness, a mystery of sorts, that intrigued and puzzled me.
In early September 2001 I was giving flute lessons at a school for home-schooled students one day a week. It was across the river from us, in the St. Paul, MN area. As the school year had just started, there were new instructors. One of them had a fairly simple last name, but I was unable to remember it correctly. For some odd reason, I kept calling her Ms. “Huffman”. I was puzzled, to say the least. Usually, I either remembered a person’s name exactly and forever, or not at all. This was a bit different.
Every evening I read a chapter of the Bible before bed. Sometimes there seems to be an inclination to focus on one chapter. At that time, it was Revelation 18. As I read through the terrifying prophecy of a city that would be sunk beneath the sea I wondered what it would feel like to see people covered in ashes, and asked myself what sort of disaster would take place in ‘just one hour’. I tried to imagine how those with ships would stand far off and look at the smoke of this city’s burning.
On September 11 2001 I was sipping coffee, watching CNN, preparing for the day, when the news came in of a plane hitting one of the World Tower buildings. It must have been a small plane, off its course, I remember thinking. I don’t recall if anything to that effect was said by a newscaster. Then they showed footage of a gaping hole with smoke pouring out one side of the building. I recalled for a moment something I had read about their construction long ago, when they were built. The Twin Towers had ‘load-bearing walls’. One of those had been severely breached. Below, the first responders seemed stunned and somehow terrified. Although everyone was hoping for the best, the portents were there.
As news of the Pentagon hit came on the air I decided to still leave (I do not know why) for a dermatologist appointment not far away — it the city of Chanhassen, which is home, ironically, to a large golden pyramid-shaped temple connected to a group called Eckankar. That temple had always given me an eery feeling; even more so that day. When I went inside the doctor’s waiting room there was total silence — no TV, no radio. I felt that I was in a time warp; but at least I was able to take a deep breath for a few moments. After the routine appointment I went out to my car and turned on the radio and started up the car for the drive back home. Stations were jumbled on top of each other. The news seemed almost incomprehensible — both WTC towers had fallen, and a fourth plane had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania; ironically, not far from where I had once gone to school. I was unable to process all the new information, and began to become lightheaded. I was on side roads by this time and drove carefully, ready to pull over if necessary.
When I returned home, of course, my husband confirmed my worst fears, and the news channels carried nothing else but this disaster. Our borders had been breached for the first time since Pearl Harbor by, we were quickly told, a group of fanatics. Two of them had trained at a place called “Huffman Aviation” in Florida. When I heard that, I began to shake. I went back to Revelation 18. The entire area near the WTC towers was covered in dust, and everyone looked like mummies. The cameras panned on lower Manhattan from CNN in New Jersey, showing at a distance the smoke of its burning. Every one of us watched, helplessly. And for some reason I even now do not understand, I began to praise Gd — not for the attacks, but for preparing me to see that no matter what happened, His hand was also there in the darkness. I think He held the buildings up as long as possible to get as many people as possible out. I wondered if this tragedy would bring the city of New York to its knees in true repentance.
That was not to be — instead, they have rebuilt.
So could 9/11 have been a heads-up? How about, also, Hurricane Sandy, which actually changed direction and headed directly toward New York City, creating terrible calamity? Over 300 students at Fairfield University became homeless as a result of its assault on just that small section of the shoreline of the Long Island Sound.
New York City still stands. But for how long? Will it become true in reality at some point that “the sound of …flutists…shall not be heard in you anymore?” Rev. 18:22(a)
*M4B=Mozart For Believers