Lessons of September 11

The coming of Spring, the Season of Renewal, has a very special significance for us at Holistic Primary Care this year. With the first buds, the lengthening days, the festivals of Redemption and Resurrection, comes our first issue since the attacks of September 11.

Our home-office is located seven blocks from what was once the World Trade Center. When the lights and phones went out on that afternoon, so went the possibility of conducting normal business for many months to come.

We were suddenly pitched into darkness. Our very cells imprinted with the awful tremors that shook our building and all of lower Manhattan as the planes hit the towers. Our eyes hazed by the massive ocean of ash, debris, and shattered glass that washed through our street. Our hearts and minds deeply shaken by that first glimpse into the mouth of chaos at the WTC site.

For weeks, we dwelt among the unrested spirits of those suddenly and violently wrenched from this life. Our vibrant neighborhood, rich in commerce and culture, suddenly became what it had been for millions of years, a tiny slip of darkened land at the confluence of the river and the sea.

But we also witnessed the rekindling of a precious light—a light called Common Good. Meg and I, like many of our neighbors, immediately threw ourselves into relief work. For two weeks, we cooked nonstop for the exhausted and famished fire, police, sanitation, utility and military personnel who suddenly became our neighbors. We worked by candlelight, bolstered and blessed by the tireless help of volunteers from all walks of life who found ways into The Zone, some walking miles, to join in the relief effort.

That was the easy part. In those first weeks, one simply did what was needed. And what was needed was clear and immediate. But once the power was restored, the streets were cleared, and the imminent danger passed, we faced the more difficult challenge of restoring and rebuilding our lives and our business. The economic challenge was certainly daunting—the autumn ad-buying season is a bad time for a small publisher to be without phones and computers.

But the psychological and spiritual challenge proved even more difficult: How to live with violent uncertainty? How to rebuild knowing that in an instant, it can all be taken away? How to cultivate compassion and open-heartedness in a world caught in a widening spiral of ruthlessness?

We have been asleep for too long, but the bell has tolled. I've come to believe it is up to all of us, each of us, to sanctify, redeem, and make meaningful the losses of September 11 by living our lives more truly, more deeply. By allowing the events to shake us to the core, so that we never again quite fall into the slipstream of illusory comforts and false safety. By letting them shake us free of our idolatries. By holding our close ones close, while at the same time letting them go—to be themselves. By practicing respect, and cultivating the only true wealth possible for us humans: Love. If we fail in these holy tasks, if we simply put dark brackets around the date "9/11" and call it an aberration, if we fall back into the mindless rut, then those lives were lost in vain.

It is with these thoughts, these hopes in mind that I welcome you to the rebirth of Holistic Primary Care. I hope that it helps you in your noble vocation. Never has the work of healing been so crucial.

I welcome your feedback and your suggestions. Reach me at my email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..