WORDS FROM OUR READERS - The Day Of Terror - September 11, 2001


We are encouraging our readers to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions about our national tragedy. If you have not done so, please e-mail us at bob@hurherald.com or FAX at 304-354-6183 or snail mail at HC65-Box 120, Mt. Zion WV 26151.

Please remember that the opinions expressed here are strictly of those who wrote them.

Dear Bob,

I wrote the attached letter and sent it to my address list earlier this week....much to my amazement it has begun to circulate in both the US and abroad. I'm sending it to you, not so much for publication in the Herald, though that would be ok, but more in memory of Jim, who inspired it and as a communication with a fellow writer. I've enjoyed following the writings in the Herald.

Dear friends and family,

I am writing today because in the last 24 hours I have received several indicators that the shock of the past week's events is beginning to thin and the deeper awareness of the scope and impact of our woundedness is breaking through. I wanted to share some thoughts in the hopes they might help us to heal and continue a process of discussion and dialogue about our future. Feel free to pass this on.

My heartfelt wishes for peace and courage in this time of national tragedy go out to all of you. May you feel the arms of the Divine Presence gathering you close in comfort and compassion. May you have someone around you to hold you as you weep your tears for our shattered lives. Do not fear or withhold your tears; they are a sign of your compassionate strength and they will heal you.

In the past few days we have seen evidence that our hearts are broken open with suffering. I pray that this is not a temporary phenomenon, but an enduring motivation to heal division, dissolve boundaries and work for lasting peace.

In truth, as a nation we have just begun a time of deep transition. A major chapter in our history has ended. The theme and plot of the next chapter is not clear -- we have yet to choose it. Much has changed and will change in the ensuing months and years. We have been wounded. We are understandably sad, hurt and angry.

All successful transitions -- where we leave behind our sense of who we were in order to discover and claim who we are meant to be -- require us to feel death in a personal way. That is hard for Americans; as was noted recently in connection with the Bill Moyer's program on death and dying: "this is a great country to be sick in but not a great one to have pain in." Our pain will be enduring and it is important to make room for it because it can become a motivation for personal change, spiritual growth and a healed world.

My greatest teacher about world peace issues was my husband, Jim Pfeffer. Jim had served as a missionary in the Phillippines and Malaysia for 20 years of his life. He worried constantly that our government's policies in the third world would someday result in our becoming a target for vengeance. His personal experience of seeing people victimized by terrorist activity profoundly altered the way he lived. He was PEACE personified. Jim died in a tragic and unexpected way on Christmas Eve of 1999. He was released from his body and transcended his humanity at a time when the spiritual energies of the world are focused on the birth of the Prince of Peace. I fully believe that he joined many others souls who are now working on our behalf at a spiritual level to help transform our world.

Just before Jim's funeral I had a vision that rocked me. I "saw" myself climb into his coffin and close the lid behind us. At first I was quite shaken, questioning myself -- was this some kind of unconscious wish to die? Time would show me that I was SIMPLY GLIMPSING A REALITY already known by my subconscious mind. My life as I had known it was buried with Jim. In the coming months and years, I would rebuild and it would be a process requiring much self-questioning, searching, resilience and courage. One part of me would continue to function in the outer world -- making meals, doing laundry, counseling others and continuing to work. Another part of me would be in a deep silence, listening to pain and loss, listening for God and, eventually, hearing guidance toward a new way of doing life. Like you, I am going through that process again. I submit to it willingly because I know it brings depth of character, clarity in priorities, a firm sense of mission and strengthened faith.

We have all just been through a traumatic "ego" death. Our senses of power, control, and invulnerability have been shattered. There may be many more changes to come as our economy and government respond to this disaster. Whether we feel it yet or not, a process of death, grieving and rebirth has begun in all of us. As we feel the changes taking place around us, we can be certain that monumental changes are taking place inside of us. Some of us may feel that we have no control over what is going on outside of us. However, we have INFINITE power to CHOOSE the way in which we change inside. And I believe with my whole heart that if we choose to change inside in positive ways by opening to our highest and best natures, we will influence the direction and course of external events. Our inner life will be reflected in our outer reality.

What reality do we want to have reflected? This is an opportunity to BE more of what we want to SEE!

All successful transitions begin with conscious grieving. By conscious grieving I mean that we do not avoid AWARENESS that we are in mourning and that we ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in the process.

In the spirit of shared healing, I offer these suggestions for continuing conscious grieving:

1. In the coming months, take EXTRA time for quiet time and reflection. Be conscious about allowing and naming your feelings. Find a way to express them through art, music, journaling, collage work, talking, and participating in support or discussion groups. It can also be helpful to express feelings through volunteerism. Do not be afraid to keep talking about these events and your reaction to them as long as you need to. Try to listen when others need to talk even when you must deal with your own discomfort. I noticed in my counseling this week that FEW clients brought their fears and worries up on their own. But as I brought the issue to the table, waves of feeling were expressed. As a recent mourner I know that one of the hardest aspects of grief is that people want to avoid talking about death and loss VERY QUICKLY. This is a form of denial and that silence hurts everyone.

2. Focus on SERVANT LEADERSHIP. All of us are leaders when we serve others. Serving others, as energy permits, is a wonderful way to heal our grief. As you are hearing about the stories of victims notice those that really catch your attention and open your heart. Are you stirred MOST by stories of outstanding mothering, fathering, heroism, creativity, courageous business leadership, childhood innocense? What most captures our attention is often a REFLECTION of something that is a priority for us or that WANTS to be a priority for us. Find some way to acknowledge the death of victims whose stories touched you in some personal way. Contribute to a charity on their behalf. Pray for the successful transition of that particular soul and for that particular family. Seek out and contribute to a foundation set up in their name. Find a way to BE more of what that individual was on a daily basis. Every month on the 11th for the next year, set aside time to remember and pray for the victims of these tragedies. Remember that leadership can legitimately be expressed in contemplation and action. Even the quietest and shyest among us can lead through prayer and meditation.

3. As you can, change your images of and thoughts about the disaster."Ground Zero", the Pennsylvania crash site and the Pentagon do not have to be seen as places where war began but as HOLY GROUNDS where a process toward lasting peace was born. Personally, I can no longer see the twisted metal that is ground zero without seeing the hands of the Great Mother above it welcoming home the souls of thousands of her most precious children. When the image of those hands first flashed into my mind, I also thought of the words from Christian scripture, "take off your shoes....you are standing on sacred ground." How many of those souls would want to see that their deaths initiated a chain of violent events having devastating effects on their family, friends and the world at large? What kind of world do you want to live in? Can you begin to bring that picture into clearer focus and BELIEVE it can happen? We can fear war or love peace into reality. The choice is ours and the Divine awaits our decision.

4. Be alert to messages -- from intutition, synchronicities and dreams -- about how to heal personally and how to cooperate in a national effort of peace and healing. I believe that we are and will get clear Divine messages about how to heal and transcend this tragedy and that it will take DEEP LISTENING to hear them. Speak out! Emmet Fox has said that in a conflict God always sits on both sides of the table. There is truth to be heard in the terrorist's viewpoint. Our national policies and behaviors helped to create the anger they feel. We can hear their truth and seek to change our ways....at the same time seeking justice for the unGodly and unjustifiable way in which they expressed their hatred. Let us hear all voices -- voices of anger, hurt, fear, peace, compassion, forgiveness -- and out of those forge a balanced response to these tragedies. This nation was built on consensus.

5. Be patient. You are significant. We all must trust that every small step we take toward reaching the goal of peace COUNTS. Our patience with our children, our families, our co-workers and with the peace process itself WILL transform to JOY.

6. Therese Rondo has noted that ALL healed and transformed grief involves completing five basic tasks: being grateful for love, saying good-bye, asking for forgiveness, giving forgiveness and expressing gratitude. Completion of these tasks takes months but the markers are clear. In 20 plus years of providing counseling, I have noticed that the healing of grief is arrested when people cannot complete the forgiveness process. How can we forgive when we feel so angry and helpless? Perhaps the best we can do is pray for the ability to forgive at some point in the future and that God's mercy be given when ours cannot.

7. Women, this is a call to action! Our creative powers, compassionate natures, and intuitive strengths are needed both to balance the currently highly and understandably activated warrior energies of our men and to honor and acknowledge the compassion and depth of feeling they are currently experiencing and sharing. In the past week, over a dozen creative, educated and powerful women said to me that they had a viewpoint about what was going on that they felt reluctant to express because it was not the majority viewpoint. Our voices are needed now, more than ever. Again, consensus between our warrior, visonary, healer and teacher energies will lead us to safety.

May Peace Prevail on Earth Inspired by the kindness of James Noel Pfeffer, Jr., husband, father and peacemaker

Dr. Linda M. Sandel
Inspiration and Power for Managing Change with Courage and Creativity
email: wisdomsources@aol.com