European Day of Remembrance

It was an eerie moment. One minute, the supermarket was bustling with Friday morning shoppers. The next, everyone stopped. The man collecting trolleys froze as he put the last one in place. An elderly woman and her daughter stopped mid-step as they pushed their trolley past the fruit counter. Children in trolley-seats became still as they gazed at the silent adults around them. Lift doors opened and people emerged and in their turn became still. The busy-ness of the weekly shop gave way to a profound rediscovery of the power of shared silence.

Those moments were shared by countless others as a collective grief and sympathy was expressed for those who were killed and injured in the terrorist attacks in the United States. Everyone has experienced the other moments frozen in time. The photographs of unbelievable damage - of people missing - of people suffering and of others coming to their side even at risk of their own lives. There are the frozen moments of recorded messages, most poignantly from a woman who just called to say "I love you".

13.45 (UK time) was a defining moment. The symbols of power and wealth were seen to begin to collapse and it seemed that evil had triumphed.

And yet, from the ashes of despair and destruction, something else emerged. There was great heroism and compassion in those attempting rescue and caring for the injured and traumatised. A wave of solidarity flowed from around the world as people saw televised stories and put themselves in the shoes of another in a way that perhaps they had not done before.

Former enemies spoke words of sympathy and offered what support they could. Some, it is true rejoiced at the destruction - but infinitely many more deplored the horror of what had been done. Around the world, people of all faiths and none spent time contemplating the enormity of what they had witnessed....
and many learned to pray again.

| first reflection |