Karen H. Pittman
September 14, 2009
And heaven wept
By Karen H. Pittman

Down it poured a nerve-scalping war dance of rain, pummeling its drums and refusing to let up. Like a tribe of ghouls, the uninvited gusts howled around the pit. If, as the Native Americans believed, the wind really is an instrument through which the souls of the dead commune with the living, what, then, on this day of all days, was it trying so hard to say?

Friday marked the passing of the first anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks without George Bush. The man who for seven years stood strong as our graying father figure and Condoler-in-Chief was nowhere to be seen, though he was with us in spirit, to be sure.

And I don't think it was just me. Surely it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention: something crucial to the ritual was missing. There was a palpable absence, a great gaping hole in the day, reminiscent of the holes left in the ground in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. Throughout, the ghost of George Walker Bush hung like a pall over Barack Hussein Obama's bony shoulders. It stalked him as he strode with chin held high onto the White House lawn, bowing his glistening head a hair too late; and it towered over him as he stepped up to the podium at the Pentagon to deliver his strangely tearless yet dripping eulogy. Afterwards it over-shadowed him as he shook survivors' hands smiling a mite too broadly for my taste.

Truth be told, we weren't just missing the man: we were missing the feeling he brought with him. Tellingly, there was far more raw emotion and brio in Obama's overwrought remembrance of the Lion of the Senate than in all his remarks about the more than 3,000 American lives wasted that day by Osama's crazed cult of Islamic lunatics. Gone was the shower of empathy, evaporated were the choked-back tears. As with the man, the rain was a poor stand-in.

In his elegiac article, "Flight 93, the Crater and the Open Book" (http://townhall.com/columnists/JerryBowyer/2009/09/11/flight_93,_the_crater_and_the_open_book?page=full&comments=true), Jerry Bowyer relays a little-told tale of a miraculous relic retrieved from the wreckage rammed deep into the Shanksville dirt.

    Remarkably, not everything disintegrated: there was an open Bible in the middle of the field. Where steel had been shattered, a book remained intact. The first responders were not able to find any piece of metal larger than a pie plate, and yet they found a Bible. Where human flesh had been instantly cremated, paper was only slightly singed.

Bowyer's account comes as eerily close to prophesy as you can get in this world. He goes on to note that the Bible recovered from that smoldering Somerset County field was found by the local Fire Chief lying opened to I Kings 12-16, a passage describing how Israel descends, after "a golden age," into "a long period of oscillation between good and bad kings."

Sound familiar?

The story strikes this reader as salient less for its macabre overtones, however, than for the timing of its release, aimed by Bowyer to coincide with Friday's proceedings ceremonies jarringly different, both in tone and temperament, from those held in years past.

Consider: Friday marked the first year since 2001 that it actually rained on the day of 9/11, the sun being as elusive as George Bush's tanned face. To add insult to injury, for the first time ever, the observances at Ground Zero were forced to carry on gamely with nary an appearance by the American President. Instead, the otherwise-omnipresent Obama chose to keep himself scarce, for once, deigning to touch down only momentarily at the Pentagon Memorial, where his soulless speech offered slim comfort to the grief-soaked crowd. Given his outsized reputation as a stentorian orator, Cicero's words were pat and patently unconvincing, grudgingly given, wet and yet dry, pinprickingly personal and yet soaringly aloof. (Rather like the man himself.)

But perhaps the single most jolting and uncanny thing about the entire day was not so much a difference as a foreboding likeness: on September 11, 2009, the DOW Jones Industrial Average closed at 9605 exactly where it had closed eight years and one day earlier, on September 10, 2001.

I don't know which is more chilling that DOW number or that Bible flapping open in that smoking field.

What, if anything, I can't help but wonder, do these bizarre planetary alignments mean? Could Heaven possibly have been crying with us, and was the DOW (of all things) speaking to us in tongues still more mysterious than the wind's?

How in the world, would somebody please tell me, did that Bible eject itself from all that rubble in one piece? And why do we keep looking to conjure up some hidden import in all these vaguely portentous atmospherics, anyway? Are we still so vestigially superstitious that we really believe nature joins us in our bereavement? Can it actually reach out to us and warn us?

Or is the truth simply that some events in the history of a society are so utterly devastating that they forever sear themselves into the very air that the culture breathes?

So what do we do? Do we just shrug these odd quirks off as coincidence? Are they really just the fluff of fluke and chance, the fevered fantasies of fate-minded flakes over-inclined to read patterns in the tea leaves? Or do we earnestly try and make sense of them before it's too late?

My flair for the poetic aside, I ask: are we not now, just like the DOW Jones Industrial Average, right back where we left off on the afternoon of September 10, 2001? Have we not forgotten our watch and fallen asleep at the wheel, slumping back into that twilight slumber? Are we not once again stuck in the mud of the pre-9/11 mindset?

And most ominous of all, are we not propping ourselves up, tower-like, for the next big fall?

Read the handwriting on the wall, America, and weep. Heaven did, if her Chosen One did not.

© Karen H. Pittman


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Karen H. Pittman

Karen Hathaway Pittman is a freelance writer, novelist and poet whose political commentary is widely published on the web. She lives in London, England with her husband and cat. Her work is archived online at http://karenhpittman.blogspot.com, but she prefers to be followed on Facebook. She receives email at karen.pittman@sky.com.

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