I spent today, Sunday, September 11, with my son, Connor, at the Laurie Cox Classic, a lacrosse showcase for high school Juniors & Seniors, at New England College. We stumbled out of bed at oh lord o’clock and were on the road by 6:15. With the car seat heater on high, coffee in the cup holder, and Connor plugged in and passed out in the passenger seat, I turned on the radio for a little company. WGBH 89.7 was playing “Reflections in Song“, a two-hour program of music to mark the the 9/11 ten year anniversary. The songs were sent in by listeners along with the reason for their musical offering.
Some of the songs were familiar, others, completely new to me. Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” came on just at the sun fully rose and I found myself thinking about my college friends and seeing him play at the Carrier Dome in 1990. John Lennon’s “Imagine” played somewhere along Route 293 in New Hampshire. An airplane crossed the sky and I worried about my husband, scheduled to fly to Miami later in the day.
The songs stream on. Elvis Costello challenges me to wonder what exactly is so funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding. Allison Krauss’ compelling invitation to go “Down to the River to Pray” reminds me of the comfort that getting still and centered can bring. U2, Paul Simon, and Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds, each so very distinct from the other, but they feel so connected under this particular umbrella.
“My City of Ruins” by Bruce Springsteen is the second to last song. The song was written before September 11th for Asbury Park, New Jersey, but was included on The Rising, a cd to commemorate the attacks. To me, the chorus is both a command and a prayer:
Come on, rise up
Come on, rise up
repeated over and over again. It so captures what a lot of us where feeling in those days. The desire to have the Towers stand again, to demand those lost in their collapse to walk away whole, for the country to find her footing again. It is just impossible to accept what has happened. What we have seen.
The program ends with “This Land is Your Land” and I am immediately taken back to a Grandparents Day/Memorial Day concert at Connor’s elementary school. I can see his sweet little face and hear him proudly singing like it was yesterday. This sleeping, hulking mass beside me was once the size of a football I could carry on one arm. That feels like yesterday, too.
We are just about at the New England College campus. The highway was mostly quiet and easily travelled, but it did get pretty foggy at times and I had to slow down because I wasn’t always sure of the way. Just like some songs we know by heart, others not so much. In the ten years that have passed since that original September 11th in 2001, I have come to learn that part of living in the world means staying on the journey, roads I know and songs I don’t included. And when I feel my faith falter, I will draw upon the wisdom Paul McCartney offered this September 2011 morning: There will be an answer. Let it be.