Hope, Ten Years Later

September 11, 2011

May I be at one
With the various parts of myself.
So that mind and heart work together.
So that the conversations in my head
Form a choir in perfect harmony.
So that what I do is supported by my
Heart’s desire
Like a shadow dancing behind a child
At play.
To be connected to the world,
Inspired by the sun and the wind.
To realize that every breath is a gift
And every blizzard has its place.
To be embraced by love for the people in my life.
So there is no fear, no suspicion, no separation
There is only love.

– From God Whispers, by Karyn D. Kedar

I read this piece to start the first class I taught after September 11, 2001. Four days had passed and sorrow, despair, anger, confusion, hatred and emptiness were still having their way with me. Everything about that day was still fresh and so surreal– getting the news in my office, just blocks away from the UN; walking across town to Penn Station as black and gray fumes billowed into the sky. More so than hysteria, there was heaviness in everyone and everything on the street. Even waiting outside of an evacuated Penn Station with my sister-in-law, there was a feeling of disbelief and not knowing what to do next, as if a total stranger walked up and stabbed you in the arm. We were just three weeks away from the birth of our first child and this was the world we were bringing her into?!?

Having turned my own practice up a notch to try to burn out what was going on in my head and heart, I was looking forward to teaching that morning. But how would I start? What would or could I say? There was no logical, rational or yogic way to explain the events of that fateful Tuesday. Even if I could, that would be an explanation for me, everyone had been affected differently. The last thing I wanted to do was appear preachy, superior or detached—or as if I had it all under control—especially since I simply didn’t.

In the liner notes of his album, Mantrica, Anant Jesse writes “Words can only point towards the truth. In silence, truth reigns!” A moment of silence to give each person the opportunity to discover his or her own truth would be perfect. Yet I’d been sitting silently each day and not only hadn’t the truth come, but sitting had been anything but silent. A moment of silent reflection would certainly be part of how I started, but was there anything more that could be said?

It would make for a great story if an inner voice had called out, telling me to turn to page 92 of Karyn Kedar’s book that morning or if it had magically been placed on the table, opened to that passage. To be honest, I can’t remember if it was the first or the thirty-first book I had looked through, but I immediately knew it was right. After a week in which everything had been turned upside down, it spoke to the one thing in my life I could still control—myself. And even then, the voice was more endearing than commanding—May I be at one with the various parts of myself…
I shared the piece that morning, with my voice breaking at the end. We practiced that morning in a swirl of emotion, energy, reflection and spirit. I continue to start my class each September 11th with that same reading.

The four days turned into four years and the four years into ten. Next month our daughter, Caitlin, will turn ten. Our second daughter, Ella, just turned five. As any parent will tell you about their own kids, they are simply extraordinary.

Ten years removed from 9/11, the world is a different place. We’ve got alerts all the colors of the rainbow, heightened airport security and certainly don’t look at that unattended bag or car quite the same way we used to. We have more people involved in practices such as yoga and volunteerism than ever before. Just as we came together in the days that followed 9/11, that sense of community continues even now. For better and worse, we’re starting to open our eyes and wake up.

I suppose I’ll never fully reconcile those events, nor can I deny that fear, hate and anger will overshadow love at times in my life. That’s part of being human.

Striving to be at one with the various parts of myself, to connect to the world, to realize every breath is a gift and that every blizzard, or hurricane, or the next disaster of manmade or Divine creation has its place—that’s part of being whole. And in that place, there is only Love.
It is my sincerest hope that we may find this place together.