Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Day After

As was the case at Wellesley college, the academic year had just begun and my schedule was already full. I had been on campus for about a week as a doctoral level practicum student at the Stone Center Counseling Service. I had an 8:30, 9:30, and 10:30 client scheduled.

I had gotten my first appointment of the day, sat down with her, and went about the business of doing therapy. I walked her to the office, scheduled her next appointment, and heard from the secretary that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember thinking that was sad, got my next client, and went back to the business of doing therapy. The thought of the plane crash was pushed far out of my mind. I repeated the previous process and walked my second patient to the office. I scheduled her appointment and said goodbye. Only then did I notice the ashen faces of those gathered in the office. "They are gone," she said. I asked "what is gone?". She said the buildings, the buildings are gone. I walked and got my 10:30 client and again put everything out of my mind.

It wasn't until 11:30, when I finally had a break, that my attention went back to the conversations held in the office and what meaning was held in those words.

That was nine years and one day ago. In some respects, and enormous amount of time has passed. Yet in other ways, the world has stayed exactly the same.

I was struck yesterday by a quote in the Boston Globe. A person protesting the Islamic Center that is to be built in a former Burlington Coat Factory Store carried a sign that said "It stops here" and "Never forgive, never forget, no WTC mosque."

Never forgive. Simple words really--simple words that are brimming over with unexpressed anger. Simple words that will forever prevent one protester, a country, and a world from moving forward. Without forgiveness, hate continues to reside in the heart. The day after never comes and one is forever trapped in a moment of pain and anguish.
The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget--Thomas Szaz

Why is this? The forgiving isn't for the other--it's for us. Once we find a way to release ourselves through forgiveness, we can continue move forward with our life rather than being trapped in the past. The past becomes a memory--in it's proper place. Without forgiveness, the past remains trapped in our present and it is never the day after.

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