Sunday, September 11, 2011

On My Journey From Vengeance to Grace. (The 9/11 Retrospective I Swore I Wouldn't Write)

11 years ago I was sleeping off a late night when my good friend called me and told me the news
10 years ago I joined the Army
6 years ago I made my first trip to Afghanistan
4 years ago I was supporting some of the most highly-trained killers in the world, and quite good at it.

Today I am in need of Grace just as in those days, as I struggle to reconcile what I've done, what I've seen, and where I've been with what He wants me to be.

Part of me wants justice, but that same part of me has no way to define what that justice looks like, leaving me with one nagging question.

At what point do we consider the debt paid in full?

Nearly 3000 Americans died in the 911 attacks.

Since then:

tens of thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis dead
hundreds of thousands displaced
the entire leadership structure of al Qaeda eliminated
everyone involved in the planning and execution of 911 either dead or behind bars
the number of troops killed in the ensuing war approaching the number of victims on 911 itself
thousands of troops broken physically, emotionally and spiritually

At what point am I satisfied?  How much death and destruction are required for my catharsis?

I understand the desire for vengeance, and I grieve with ALL of those who have experienced loss as the result of this tragedy.  However, we must allow grace, forgiveness and healing to intervene at some point and break the cycle of violence.

My simple prayer for this 9/11 anniversary:

Help me to be a peacemaker in  the midst of conflict.
Help me to bring healing and forgiveness in the midst of pain.
Help me.

Lord, hear my prayer.


  1. Wow. Well said. Amen and Amen. Almost sounds like a St. Francis prayer. Well done. And thank you for your service over there and here. My father was Army 101st Airborne during Korea. Salute.

  2. Well said - I think you've captured the side of this that so many people have overlooked. We can't have "victory," and we cannot forget. Peace, though - the lasting inner peace you reveal - would be a good start.

  3. Luke, absolutely and amazingly beautiful! Thank you for your courageous words. I hear these ideas and utterances 'around' if you will. They surface in the awful midst of the young Ranger who recently shot himself to a neighbor I've interacted with once down the street who fled our area (predominantly military) as soon as he could because he himself did not know how to begin to forgive himself or what that meant.

    I too joined as result of the 9-11 attacks. I have not served overseas yet, but my children continue to serve and sacrifice presently in their fathers absence. They did not volunteer. They know nothing of these events now ten years ago. I look at their tender faces....I guilt myself heavily each evening in my physically and mentally exhausted state as I heavily contemplate "WHY?!" Why dear gracious God does this (catharsis) continue? Why are my children without. Why are our relationships now tattered and torn as much as those on the embattled frontline of war? Why? are correct. A better question would be WHEN!! When exactly is this going to end?

    I thank you, Luke, again for your courage then and now and continuously.
    Leisa W

  4. I am comforted by the "peace prayer" of Saint Francis of Assisi, who was himself a warrior and then a devout Christian. It changes the common emphasis of prayer these days from asking God to empower vengeance to asking God to bring peace in the midst of human conflict - which is the state in which our fallen world is made most visibly obvious.

    Saint Francis' Peace Prayer

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
    Where there is injury, pardon.
    Where there is doubt, faith.
    Where there is despair, hope.
    Where there is darkness, light.
    Where there is sadness, joy.
    O Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive.
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


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