Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Holes & Wholes
As I sat knitting this morning and watching MSNBC, I couldn't miss the fact that this is September 11th, six years later but no closer to peace.
I watched the family members solemnly file in. I looked on as the color guard marched onto the platform. I listened to children singing our national anthem. I saw the mayor of New York City speak. I heard the commentators discussing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, debating whether we are any safer today than six years ago on the day the towers fell and the earth shook with its repercussions.
But what riveted my attention, was the flag behind the podium. It was the original flag flown over "Ground Zero" as the site has become known. The flag was as worn and ragged as the rescue workers on that day, as shredded as the hearts of those who lost loved ones, as tattered as our feelings of security, as battered as our ability to hope.
The flag was riddled with rips and tears, and the sun shone brightly as it did on that other infamous Tuesday. As the ceremony continued, those holes became pinpoints of light, transformed from negative space into luminous stars.
I looked down at the complex pattern I was knitting, made up of yarnovers (or holes) and began to ponder.
Holes in knitting are, generally speaking, a bad idea. We spend hours perfecting our craft, learning to keep a consistent tension, trying to avoid dropping a stitch or otherwise mangling the fabric we are creating. We store our hand made treasures with cedar blocks to ward off moths. (Much better smelling than the mothballs our mothers used.)
If we do not "fix" the holes, binding them off in some fashion, they get bigger, creating ladder runs or ever widening gaps in the fabric. We want our knitting to be whole, not holey.
Yet here I was, making holes on purpose. Furthermore, in this season of lace, I had been knitting holes for the entire summer. Why?
Because the holes make the fabric interesting, intricate, textured. Because the lace is shaped by what is no longer there.
Even so are we shaped by what is no longer there. Whether we know anyone in NYC or not, whether we are a military family or not, we have all been touched by the losses sustained that day, and in the six years that followed.
If we let holes ( in the flag, in lower Manhattan, in our souls) remain negative space, we let them rend us, tear us, make us less whole. Most of us know the Hebrew word, "Shalom." It is usually translated to mean "peace." Some of us use it as a greeting, a blessing, an invocation. Fewer of us know the meaning: wholeness at all times, in all things.
Do you know a better definition for peace?
We need to fill the holes in our national psyche. We need to let the light shine through. We need to allow ourselves to be made whole.
My wish for today is to remember not what we have lost, but what we have gained, to let the wounds of 9/11 bring us closer, rather than tear us apart.
That is my hope. That is my prayer.