I am a woman searching for my inner goddess and using fabrics, words and photography as my road map. I find great comfort and order in my creative efforts and hope that in sharing them you find a peace also. Welcome and Be Blessed!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Small School Heroes 9-11 Style

Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.--Billy Graham

A friend suggested that I visit the site Perseverando and check out the video he has up for 9/11. This is a post about his memories of that day. Mine are very different but also filled with heroes. Here is my story about that fateful day and the necessary days that led up to it.

The weekend leading up to 9/11/2001 I was lost in the woods of the Allegheny National Forest in Western Pa. I was there camping, hiking and chaperoning my daughter’s senior class. This was a trip meant to be a bonding period for the senior class, and if there was ever a class that needed something to help them come together and bond this was that class.

A hero is simply someone who rises above his own human weaknesses, for an hour, a day, a year, to do something stirring.--Betty Deramus

I have been something of the class Mom for these kids from kindergarten on. I had watched their development and seen the stretching and growing and groaning they have done. I watched as classmates moved in and out of their circle of about 20 kids who have grown up from mere children to almost adults. In 10th grade many of these sweet loving children turned into indifferent, unkind, backbiting teenagers and the war was on. This class, perhaps the class intelligent class ever at the school, was in the midst of amazing battles- among themselves, against the administration, outsiders, parents and themselves. It was painful for me to watch. I began to pray. Pray hard, and pray often for these kids who I loved dearly.

Skip back forward to the Allegheny National Forest. The class was now on a camping trip affectionately known as the “smelly trip” because there were very specific rules for this trip. No soap, no deodorant, perfumes, no shampoo. We were supposed to get good and smelly on purpose. The trip was designed to take each camper into themselves away from all comfort zones. We had to learn to work together- I was led for over 2 miles blindfolded from camp to the rock wall we were to climb and repel. My daughter was one of those who actually climbed the wall blindfolded. We were pushed to our limits, we were pushed to exhaustion and we were then challenged to push inward and find where we hurt the most.

I sat around the campfire and watched as my 20 babies began to truly open up, some for the very first time. They talked about their fears which were strangely similar- rejection was at the top of the list. They talked about their need of acceptance and love and how they were hurting and scared. They realized that walking blindfolded and allowing others to lead was a huge trust issue and that being trusted to lead was an awesome privilege. I sat there in awe of God, a God so big that he could take these 20 selfish kids and turn them into group of young adults who now respected each other and appreciated not only the likenesses but also the differences about each other. Wow, would this, could this last I wondered. Not only could they now sit in a group and be content together, they now all smelled pretty much the same.

When the first Superman movie came out I was frequently asked "What is a hero?" …My answer was that a hero is someone who commits a courageous action without considering the consequences… Now my definition is completely different. I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.--Christopher Reeve

We returned on a Sunday afternoon and couldn’t wait for hot showers and soft beds. Monday was spent reminiscing. Tuesday morning I was working in my office at the school, my boss had the TV on for background noise, panic rising in announcers voices called our attention to the horrific video of the first tower on fire and then collapsing. I had to tell my kids, I needed to be there with them when they found out. I went to the class they were in and explained the situation. We turned on a TV and watched and then we prayed. And then and there, in that small class room God appeared and heroes were born and leaders stepped up and the senior high class became one group, one heart focused on helping the rest of the school understand what was taking place.

They set aside the pain and fear and anguish that they were suddenly feeling and went out to the other classrooms to help bring a sense of calm and God’s peace to this unspeakable day of suffering and horror. God took some teenagers who had some pretty stinky attitudes and used them that day to perfume those school hallways with the incense of prayer and the sweet smell of love.

Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.--Carol Pearson (The Hero Within)

Many heroes were born that day of 9-11 and I believe that they were not all at the crash sites. I believe that people around this great nation stepped up and stepped out of their comfort zones for others. I was able to witness this taking place in a very small town at a very small school with a very small class of seniors who had very big hearts. Most of these same seniors have now graduated from college and are out to make this world a better place. I for one am thankful. God bless my kids, all of them, and God bless this great nation of America that they are ready to step into and change- I hope we are ready!

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I believe that things can always be cured with a hug and a cup of tea, fixed with either a needle and thread, duct tape, WD40 or coke, and that prayer works every time. I take in strays whether in animal or childlike form. I have been mother to many for a time and this is my way of keeping up with some of those straying children that I miss. I appreciate shock value and use it often to remind people that the world is round and colorful and we are not all living in square brown cardboard boxes with little holes cut in for windows. Look for the warm fuzzies- God delivers them up fresh every day just to say- I think you are pretty darned special- so special that I have your picture up on my fridge for life and I am sending you a hug to remind you that you matter to me.

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