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Honor the 9/11 victims: Live in the moment

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It’s often in the ordinary moments of our ordinary lives that we make the most extraordinary impact on others.
We should remember that on Sept. 11, for among the many lessons we learned from that tragedy, perhaps the most lasting take-away for us is to live fully each moment we have, for life is lived moment by moment.
My daughter, who lives in New York City, was home for a visit, and we were sitting on our front porch, talking about nothing in particular, when she commented that whenever anyone visits her, one of the sites people most want to see is the 9/11 Museum. Not many museums will bring tears to your eyes, but this one can. At least, it did for me when I experienced it several years ago.
Walking away from it, I had one thought: none of the people who arrived at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, had any idea what awaited them that fateful morning. They arrived by the transit system---bus or train, or ferry boat, or automobile. Some boarded the planes that went down. They planned to arrive at their destinations, continue working, take breaks at some point during the day, eat lunch, work that afternoon, and go home, in much the same way they had arrived. They fully expected to end the day in whatever way they had planned, never knowing that their hug or kiss or tender words to loved ones when they left them that morning would be their last to them.
Many of the victims became heroes that day.
Those people will, of course, be remembered by us for how they died, but for the ones closest to them, I suspect it’s the little things the victims did along life’s way that left the biggest impact.
I seriously doubt that my loved ones will remember me for the last sermon I preached, or the last lecture I gave, or the last article I wrote. But, they might recall with fondness a lot of little moments where along the way, I showed in simple ways that I cared. Like it or not, our legacy will be wrapped up in the seemingly inconsequential things we did in ordinary moments.
There will be a 9/11 for each of us, hopefully not the cataclysmic event where heroes were made as they died that day, but a 9/11 in the sense that we all have an end date for our life. Those people who acted heroically on 9/11 didn’t wake up and say, “I want to be a hero today.” They did what was necessary in that moment.
Maybe they had been preparing for it by doing the right things in ordinary moments of life before that horrible day.
John Wesley, the great preacher/minister of the 18th century, who is credited with the founding of the Methodist Church, looked for ways to minister to others in seemingly simple ways, bringing Christ’s message of hope to ordinary people in ordinary walks of life. And, he did a lot. During his ministry, John Wesley rode more than 250,000 miles on horseback, a distance equal to 10 circuits of the globe. That didn’t happen in one heroic moment, but mile by mile, person by person, moment by moment.
John Wesley was once asked: “If you knew you would die at 12 o’clock tomorrow night, how would you spend the intervening time?”
“Why,” he said, “I would spend it just as I intend to spend it. I would preach tonight at Gloucester, and again tomorrow evening. I would then repair to my friend’s house as he expects me. I would converse and pray with the family, retire to my room about 10 o’clock, commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to sleep, and wake up in glory.”
Nothing spectacular there, but what a legacy he left.
To leave an honorable legacy, you don’t have to die heroically, you just have to live humbly, looking for ways to help others, in whatever manner that might be for different individuals.
Sometimes, it’s nothing more than sitting and listening to someone you love.
At that thought, I smile, sitting there on my front porch, with locusts providing background music while a cool, Kentucky breeze tickles my face, sipping on one more cup of coffee, chatting about nothing with my daughter.
Editor’s note: You can contact David Whitlock, Ph.D., at drdavid@davidwhitlock.org. His website is www.davidwhitlock.org.