Last week I found myself in Somerset, Pennsylvania with my husband. Pennsylvania is beautiful. The Allegheny Mountains took my breath away. There are parts that take on a blue hue.The mountains seem to reach the sky. The trees captivated me as we drove through the Pennsylvania State Park. At night it seemed as if I were closer to the stars. The air was clean and crisp. My husband had a great time taking me out and showing me everything he has uncovered while being there.
One of the places we visited was the Memorial for Flight 93. As we drove up my stomach felt as if it were upside down. I felt a silence in my heart that quieted my spirit. It really is a beautiful, serene place. I felt humbled and is if I were walking on hallowed ground. We parked and started walking forward. The day was chilly and the wind was unkept. My hands were cold as my husband placed his hand upon mine.
I stood still as I read each name. I searched each face. Imagined their lives. I spoke their names out loud as if they could hear. I found myself wiping tears away from my clouded eyes. I felt as if I moved to quickly I would dishonor them in some way. I didn't want to leave until my heart captured all God wanted me to see.
A huge boulder lay a distance away from where we were standing. I speak and say, "Is that where it happened?" My husband says, "Yes". I think he knows my heart is having a rough time. When my heart begins to stir I just get quiet. I felt a stillness that was unsettling. He lets me walk my own pace as I stop frequently just to ponder.
We pass the boulder and walk towards the wall carrying each of their names. The wall is amazing as it plays a visual game with your eyes. As you are walking up it looks as if it curves around, but as you walk closer, at some point, you see the wall is one continuous connection of names. I began reading the names all over again. I see a name and then the words, flight attendant, carved underneath. I keep walking and now flowers capture my vision. Flowers left in love and honor. I look up and see the name of a woman. I gently run my fingers over her name and I look down and there were the words that will be carved in my heart forever, "And unborn child". It felt as if my heart stopped beating for a moment.
Then the thought came to me, "When did they know? When did they realize they were not coming home?" They woke making plans. This wasn't on their list. As I walked away I couldn't remove that thought from my mind. It broke my heart. For the rest of the day I think my heart just ached.
On our walk back the sun broke through the clouds. I could hear the Lord saying, "Remember..Never forget and always be thankful."
Friends, we never know what will happen in the next moment. None of us know the time planned on earth for us. We take each breath for granted. Even the cruddy days that we wish we could do over hold treasures. We must remember to laugh, to love, and to hold.
This day started out to be a normal day. But it turned out to be a day that became imprinted on our hearts forever. I remember this morning. I was in bed, just home from the hospital, recovering from surgery. All my children were home and watching television with my mother. My daughter comes into the room and says, "Momma, turn on the TV. Something has happened". We all sat on the bed in horror at the sights before us. Tears streaming down our shocked faces.
As I sit here today tears are still fresh on my cheeks. All I can think is, "I am so thankful". As you leave the memorial you come into a shelter. Within this shelter is a wall with scrips of paper pinned across with penned emotions. I take a pen in my hand and reach for a square. As my husband is speaking with the guard I ponder of what I should write. I stood reading the other words before me. As I penned my words from my heart and placed the tack, all I could think was, "It's not enough".
The actions of those aboard that plane were actions of heroes and humbled souls willing to sacrifice. Again I wonder, "When did they know?" I find myself wondering if they knew the Lord. Did they feel His presence? Did they know of His love? My emotions are jumbled and scattered in all directions not unlike the forest we had just visited. I feel a sadness and an emptiness. I remember the faces and the smiles they have as the shutter captures their soul. I find myself thinking about the legacy my life will leave behind. Will my life witness a love of God? Will others see Him through my words? I then find myself just wanting to go home and put my arms around everyone I love.
Friends, I walked away from the memorial with a changed heart. A heart more thankful and one that doesn't want to take one moment for granted. Take time today with those you love. Reach out to those you haven't shared time with for years. Don't wait for the perfect time or the right moment. The perfect time is now before it's too late. Spend time with those in your life and invite those you know to know the Lord as their Savior. Don't keep putting off what needs to be done today. Take this moment now and cherish all that it holds.