Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beauty in the ruins

Today is September 11.  I never completely lost sight of that anniversary; I had a conversation with some students about it this morning, and the Twitter and Facebook reminiscences throughout the day kept the subject close at hand.

But today is also one of the most successful days I've ever had at this freshman retreat event, in which I've been participating for ten years.  It's one of the first of those days that I actually didn't want it to be over, and stayed out talking with others long past the point where most of the students had packed up and headed back to their bedrooms.

I'm stuck between elation at the rather magical connectionsI witnessed emerging here, and despond at the seeming impossibility of connection in the public square these days, directly related to the direction we've taken in the past nine years after September 11, 2001.  There's so much hope in the spontaneous way these students supported each other today, in various settings.  But the mountain of animosity and inertia they would have to climb to spread that more widely in the world seems steeper and craggier than ever.

I wonder if they know just how much of a miracle they represent.  I wonder if those of us standing between them and a more productive civic life can remember to get out of their way.  Like we did today, standing on the sidelines, cheering them on as they took the initiative and made beauty out of the day's remembered chaos.

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