The St. Lawrence University Chaplain’s Office 2020-21 Organ Concert Series begins with a Reflection for the 19th Anniversary of 9/11 by The Rev. Dr. Shaun Whitehead, St. Lawrence University Chaplain.
Welcome to the start of the Organ Concert Series sponsored by the St. Lawrence University Chaplain’s Office, with music programs prepared and performed by our Musician-in-Residence, Sondra Goldsmith Proctor. On this 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we present Music for Meditation and Reflection for 9/11. SLU alumna and violinist Abigail Evans from the Class of 2020 joins today’s program. May this music soothe your spirit as we commemorate this day.
September 11, 2001, is personal. It’s personal in that that day is forever etched in our memory or the memory of someone in our family or community. Most of us can recall where we were, what we were doing when the hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and finally an empty field in Shanksfield, Pennsylvania. WE WERE SHAKEN. For it was a day that hatred seemed to win. It was a day that hatred appeared to eclipse love until a central truth of our humanity came to the fore. As people lost their lives and others were running for their lives – the truth that came to us is that we are interdependent. We are interconnected. We need one another, and we belong to each other. And we absolutely knew that for a time on that day and many days that followed.
9/11 makes me think of Fred Rogers. We know him better as Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers said that when we are scared, and terrifying things are happening in the news, he remembered what his mother told him as a boy. She said, “LOOK FOR THE HELPERS. YOU WILL ALWAYS FIND PEOPLE HELPING.” 9/11 exemplified this. Everyone was a hero, from our firefighters, police officers, office workers, clergy persons, and ordinary citizens giving blood. At Ground Zero, the Pentagon and across the nation, the helpers were everywhere. And now, as a nation, we are living in turbulent times again, with a pandemic, political and racial unrest; suffering of all kinds. May we remember that we’ve been here before. And may we do the work of seeking shalom, and cling to the goodness we found during that season; the season when we had nothing but each other.
9/11 is personal indeed. Even the music chosen for today’s program is personal. By the time the second airplane flew into the second tower, living in Washington, D.C., at the time, our Musician-in-Residence, Sondra Goldsmith Proctor, left her home and went to her church, opened the church as the tragedy was still unfolding, and sat on the organ bench and played two songs all day from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Persons came and went all day. Sitting stunned, praying, weeping. Those two songs make up our program today.
Prelude on Welsh Hymn Tune "Rhosymedre" by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Psalm-Prelude on Psalm 23:4 by Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
“May you be blessed into the week to come,
with tenderness for your sorrows, energy for your hope,
a sweet awareness of the world around you,
and recognition of the face of [the divine] in everyone you meet.”*
Thank you for joining us today.
*Maren C. Tirabassi, “Closings – Benedictions,” in Ruth C. Duck and Maren C. Tirabassi, eds., Touch Holiness: Resources for Worship, Updated (Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 2012), 272.