Where was God on September 11th?

Claudio Carvalhaes – written on September, 2002

Shakespeare wrote in the last lines of King Lear: “Speak what we fell, not what we ought to say.” As I struggle with Shakespeare’s advice, I don’t know whether I should speak what I feel or what I ought to say. God was nowhere. God was neither on the planes nor in the Towers. God has nothing to do with September 11th. We do! All of us!  Maybe the right question to be asked then is: where were we at that day? What did we do for this event to happen and what did we not do that allowed this event to happen? It is in us that we find the traces of where God was.

God comes after, like an ambulance, coming after the events of our lives. God was in the air, God was in the debris, God might have been the debris…  God was fully there without being there. God was in the work of the firefighters, the chaplains, the paramedics and the volunteers. God was in the follow up of the event, consoling, giving us strength and wisdom to change our ways, to change our perceptions and to change our theologies. After a yeas, are we really changed? There are too many clouds of self-pity wrapped up with anger and violence  that make it difficult to see where God. I see war still raging and the United States losing its strength, credibility and economic power around the world. Instead of using international cooperation, US decided to go ahead with its own mighty to show the world how powerful this nation can be. Nonetheless, after so much money and death, and what is still to come, Bin Laden is winning this war. Inspired by Sting, I can see how fragile we are and how difficult it is to affect change and be changed.

God was at home at September 11th, a home that I may never find again. God was flying high above spreading her wings over the earth and the universe. Flying so high above for a second, trusting us we would be able to be on our own, God forgot the world completely. As soon as he heard the explosions, she came back to us and saw the damage. All the debris were still in the air and God was astonished to see it all. She couldn’t believe it. Still apprehended by the shocking view of the spectacle of horror, he sat down and cried. He could not do otherwise. Sadness took over her chest and all the stars long gone could hear her weeping as a lonely whale in the deep sea. She remembered all the atrocities she saw throughout history. She saw people dying in Egypt; she saw the genocide in Latin America, in Rwanda… She saw the black people in this country been beaten up and killed because of the color of their skin, she saw people been massacred by the dictatorship in Argentina and Brazil, she saw the horrors of the war, she saw the diseases killing people throughout the world, she saw people gasping and despairing in their pain, she saw people stretching their hands to the skies crying for help but never receiving an answer, she saw faithful people having no money to buy bread and milk to their daughters and sons who were dying in front of their very eyes… She was tired of so much atrocity. Still immersed in her thoughts, she stood up, wiped her tears away and tried to help as much as she could.  She carried people out of the remains, she saved some lives, and she gave all she had to help people. And she knew that her presence would make a difference. After September 11th, God is quieter than ever. But that’s not new…

In the Bible, since the New Testament, God hasn’t talked much. He has been in times, almost mute. Each time an atrocity happens, each time life is unfair God loses few words. As a consequence, God is running out of words. He has tried hard to keep as many words as he can. But there is no much left… In the short run, God’s eyes may well be all that God can offer to us: eyes, watered eyes. We are left then with a Negative or Apophatic theology and we will call up the mystics to be our companions.

And I pray: “God, you who may be, you who may be watching over me, you who may heal our wounds, don’t you see that we are losing control that once we thought we had? Don’t you see that our actions seem too small before the grandiosity of the injustice running around the world? Don’t you see how often we are mistaken and our efforts are even forgotten and nobody pay attention anymore? Don’t you see how far from home we all are? Have you seen what is left for us to celebrate? Haven’t you seen what we are celebrating? Self-pity and arrogance as we wonder with our own pride . You God, who may be, who may be looking at us, may you look upon the poor, may you look upon those who die anonymously every day and are buried without a memorial, without a song, without a poem, without a name and without a history.   May you look upon the world as we remember the first year of September 11th and maybe the beginning of a new war. Help us, come and save us, for we are wounded, we are lost in a road that we cannot tell exactly where it is located. We wait for you as we wait for the ambulance to rescue us and take us to places that remain unknown to us. Help us all to go through the shadows of our potentiality to do wrong, to hurt and to kill. Help us cross the indecipherable sea of human heart and overcome the fury of the righteous religious beliefs, even our own. Heal those wounded, here and afar. Receive all those who have died and will die because of that event. Beloved God, won’t you carry me home? Help me find the way back home, for I am lost. Take me home, curl me up in your arms and let me finally sleep… at home.”

One thought on “Where was God on September 11th?

  1. Sandra

    que lindo Claudio, mto tocante o que vc escreveu!! Chorei!!!
    Deus continue te dando esse talento todo pra vc continuar se expressando e fazendo c/ que as pessoas (eu tbém) repensem a caminhada!!!!

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