Photo by Jason McCann on Unsplash
20 years ago today I woke from a nightmare dream of people running and screaming from something on the lower westside of NYC to my roommate at the time calling to tell me there had been a terrorist attack. I watched the first tower burning from the roof of my apartment in Brooklyn. I thought the attack was over, so I went back downstairs to check CNN and saw the second plane hit with everyone else watching that day.
I had taken off over a year to research and write would eventually become The Alchemy of World and Soul and I was in the middle of the first draft when the attacks took place. The book explored the connections between globalization and spirituality and the process of writing it expanded my compassion for the people of the world. I tried to sit with that compassion as I watched the towers burn, as I closed the windows against the ash that soon blanketed our neighborhood, and as I attended chanted prayers at a bookstore that night with my Buddhist teacher at the time.
I thought and meditated a great deal on the events of that day and how they affected the world over the months and years that followed. I finished the first draft of the book and began writing a stage play that explored similar events with a central question: What is a spiritual response to a terrible act of violence like that of September 11? That stage play eventually became a film that I directed called Dark September Rain. I’ve continued to sit with that question for the past two decades, seeking answers as the events of that day reverberated through time, and as other events overtook them. I have found that there is no perfect answer, only the willingness to ask the question with humble compassion for those who lost their lives and their loved ones and all those other people suffering in the world in similar and even vastly different circumstances. Cultivate compassion and sit with it until it leads your heart to action.
I could not find the clip of Randall Goosby & Zhu Wang performing Florence Price’s “Adoration” at the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony today, but this as clip of them performing it elsewhere. It expresses what all my words cannot.