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From the Rubble

8 September 2012 -- I just took my first look at pictures of One World Trade Center, the main building that is being built near the site of the "Twin Towers" that were destroyed nearly eleven years ago. It is already the tallest building in New York and, from looking at the pictures; you would never know the horror associated with that place in our relatively recent past.

We have gone on to rebuild not just steel and concrete structures, but also our lives and emerging histories. Life has gone on, but its history is still irrevocably carved more deeply than the foundations of even the most impressive edifices.

Someday, my granddaughter may walk past the new buildings and marvel. While she may know of the attacks, they will only be abstract to her--pictures, stories, and videos. Even more abstract will be the fact that she will doubtless be walking past people who lived that history--who remember not just the videos, but also the raw sights, sounds, and smells . . . and the terror. Their lives, rebuilt, may not display the soul-deep scars. They may not speak of the nightmares, the anxieties, or other difficulties of coping with day-to-day experiences, but those realities have forever changed their lives.

Every day, we pass by and encounter people whose lives have similarly been impacted by events, traumas, and terrors they have experienced. The causes of those scars may not have gotten the TV coverage that the 9-11 attacks received. They may have taken place in bedrooms, back alleys, or behind the doors of a smoke-filled movie theater, but they have been no less devastating to the lives of those involved and of their families.

As you walk along familiar halls and highways, remember that what you are able to see has been rebuilt on top of all that has already been. Many people are likely still sifting through the rubble of recent wounds, wrestling with what has happened and striving to envision a tomorrow that is closer to normal than the normality that they once knew. Every person you meet is of greater value than any building, has a past more scarred and sacred than any memorial, and faces a more daunting task than any architect. So tread lightly as you go. Dare to offer encouragement and to offer, and to ask for, help as together we shape our futures.