It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since September 11, 2001.  Since then, we’ve had a child who has grown into a full-fledged kindergartner, and our family has moved across the country; 3,000 miles and what seems like a lifetime away.

Today, though, I am struck by how raw the memories of 9/11 and the weeks that followed still remain.  It’s strange: I feel foolish even saying that out loud or typing it onto this page because, unlike so many in our community in northern Jersey, I did not lose any loved ones on that day. And, yet, we were all there, somehow.

In the madness of that day, while frantically searching for my brother-in-law who was in the city at the time, we saw the wreckage of the towers.  It was like a smoldering monster, dark and seething.  Later that week, I remember walking through the city and seeing poster after poster of the disappeared — endless rows of people smiling, holding kittens, posing in front of landmarks, arm around a friend — strangely serene in the midst of people wandering in a daze, desperately trying to find loved ones or, at least, some information.

I remember the feeling of bracing myself over and over: Would there be another attack?  Were the reports that there could be survivors trapped in “pockets” in the rubble true? If so, would they be rescued in time and could I help?  How would I communicate trust in God in ways that didn’t blindly ignore the overwhelming reality of our feelings or reduce that tragic day to some pithy sermon illustration?

While I’m sure there are Big Truths to be learned from that day, what speaks to me are always the stories of particular people.  Rich Lee has posted the eulogy he read for his friend Andy Kim, who was going to be the best man in a friend’s wedding later that week, lost on 9/11.  NPR has a moving story about the mother of a flight attendant who died that day on United 93Eugene Cho has asked people to share their own 9/11 stories at his blog.