A Call to Unity as We remember 9/11 (Never Forget)

Twenty years ago on 9/11/2001, America was forever changed by an unimaginable tragic event that we will never forget. Within hours of the planes crashing into buildings, churches and synagogues were filled with people praying, healers and helpers showed up on the scenes, and we came together as one people like we never have before. We came together to console our grief, to bind up our wounds, and to give each other hope.

We lost so much on that day and the attacks in New York, Washington, and the loss of life in Pennsylvania changed us forever. It was a smoldering trauma that ignited a fuse of strife that continues today. The flames that event set afire in us, has over these past two decades become a destructive inferno against our common life as a people, bound together by ideals of justice, domestic tranquility, and common good. We are losing that unity of purpose, that common hope, and that mutual welfare. We are now on the verge of being forever changed beyond repair. Despite that unimaginable injury twenty years ago, we seem no longer able to be together in moments of tragedy but rather we are divided over the challenges we face today. We have forgotten what we shared, endured, and fought to overcome so many years ago.

,Today, we not only disagree with our fellow citizens about opinions and ideas, we are literally attacking and demonizing our fellow citizens over different viewpoints. We no longer set aside differences and embrace each other as our sisters and brothers like we did when attacked twenty years ago. The flame of division continues to burn and the evidence of that is found in the equally tragic event nine months ago when another enemy that we did not expect attacked our nation; ourselves… American citizens. On January 6 in our Nation’s Capital an attempt to undermine democracy was instigated by propagandized and misguided American citizens. That event nearly ended our democracy, when the very institution (Congress) was ravaged and overrun. Members had to retreat to hiding behind closed doors, cowering in fear from threats by their fellow citizens. This is not the narrative of America, but one found in other places and other countries. If not for the brave Capital Police that day, we can only imagine how bad that event might have been.

Despite the atrocities enacted, violence invoked, and hatred proclaimed that day, some of our leaders even now, still deny the reality of that event, its impact on our nation, and the truth of those several hours when America almost fell to an attack. Some of our people refuse to accept just how close we came to losing it all, and if we do not wake up soon to the truth, we will find ourselves ever closer to a fate worse than the one we faced more than 20 years ago. The adversaries of the American democratic republic stand against us today from without: Al Queda, ISIS, China, Russia, or other evil actors. The most lethal adversary to our republic comes from though within, and our failure to remain a diverse nation bound together by common ideals may not withstand the ongoing attacks.

In 18 months, we have tragically lost 652,000 American lives. From without, we have an invisible enemy, a pandemic whichrages on, even though we have the weapons to defeat it. Yet, we are fighting over wearing face coverings that really do save lives. Some elected leaders proclaim and our people consume destructive false information that purports wrongly that the vaccine is unsafe. We are fighting against a disease yes, but the battle seems to be against the values of union and even truth itself, and against our common welfare. We have the means to defeat the pandemic, but our divisive ideals are ripping the threads of our unity apart and yet, we keep battling on as the pandemic takes more American lives.

We have been forever changed by the tragedy of 9/11, and many of us fear for the future of our nation now, more than on that tragic day twenty years ago. I for one though have hope that we will find a way back together. To do so, we will need to seek Godly reconciliation within our divisions, and seek a commitment to a renewed unity of purpose. We will need to set aside our exclusive individuality, political warmongering, and the steady flow of social media disinformation. We we will need to sit with one another again and talk, listen, and become friends once again. We we will need to embrace compromise for the sake of unity.

Like so many Americans, who over the last two centuries have given their all to defend our freedoms in all the past battles of this great nation, we today must become the freedom warriors who are willing to sacrifice our personal needs for the common good. We must fight this pandemic together. We must set aside all the polarized stands that we have taken and which divide, and seek God’s wisdom and grace so that we might find common ground together, and so we might create solutions to our problems.

There is still hope that we will overcome this time of division and tragedy. There is hope that we will not fall like other nations who throughout history, allowed the enemies without and within to destroy them. The beauty and hope of the American experiment is found in our Constitution, which states We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. It is in these words that we find our common purpose as a nation. May we never forget 9 11, but may we never forget how fragile this great nation really is, and how we must once again accept the mantle of the holy God-given stewardship of these ideals that we have been given. May God help us.

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.BCP, p.820

Leadership Quote of the Week 9/20/18

Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.

Chris Hadfield

Faith in the midst of “Detours, Distractions, and Bumps in the Road”

WorryJesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:25 NLT)

Life-Happens.-DetoursI noticed a post on a friends Facebook page the other day.  I was deeply saddened to know how  they are struggling with an issue that is beyond imagine.  Social media can be a place where our friends are able to share our struggles, and where today, we often seek help with our worries, anxiety, and the fears of life.

I think we all wrestle with worry, especially when things happen that we either cannot control, or when we must wrestle through situations, in order to come up with a viable solution.  “Bumps in the road” and the unexpected detours do not alone have the power to distract us. Those “alternates” are what can add interest and richness to our journey.  We often cannot choose our circumstances, nor the events life presents us, but we can choose how we will respond.  Our character is molded and our faith grows when we trust God in all circumstances.  However, when we give unchecked power to distractions and “bumps in the road,” we become frozen in fear, and we stop moving forward.

bumpsIf we allow worry and anxiety to consume us, we will most likely, miss the new possibilities inherent when problems occur. Even so, when life does happen, when trials and troubles come our way, the fear is very real and it can shut us down.  I wish it were easy to just have immense courage and trust that “God’s got this,” but the journey of faith is not an easy one.  Remember, Our Lord, the one we Christians claim we follow, his journey led to a cross and death.  Our faith is fraught with fear, ambiguity, and uncertainty.  When fear comes our way we have grace to decide to stay on the road and trust God, despite the rugged path.  In prayer and in silence, we can tap into the solace of God’s peace, when those uncertainties of anxiety arise.  Walking with Christ through the struggles of life is a wonderful journey.  Be encouraged, and enjoy the view along the way.

Dreaming: Another New Year

As you approach the end of 2017, what are the things that you look back on with great delight and joy? What are the unknown possibilities that you’re dreaming about for 2018? What baggage will you leave behind? What spiritual disciplines will you take on, which will provide you with strength, courage, and peace?

“Take Courage” – An Advent Reflection

mary_jesusMatthew 14:27
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
A wise spiritual director once told me, “Tension and discomfort are usually signs that change in your life is imminent.” I think she was right. The end of the year always seems to bring “change” into the forefront of our lives. As a new year emerges, companies re-align their strategies, countries install new leaders, and organizations re-think how they will operate, how they will allocate resources, and how they will function in the new year. All of those decisions impact the lives of people outside the strategic plans of large organizations.
Throughout my business career, I saw year-end changes in companies that affected so many people. In my own life, change came when it was least expected. I am sure some of you are feeling the discomfort of imminent change, whether it is the impending nationwide changes that will occur with this new White House administration, or maybe you are contemplating a new employment situation or possibly there is a change coming in your life of which, you are not even aware.
I encourage you as we enter this time of expectant waiting, to listen to the words of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “Don’t be afraid, take courage, I am here.” God never abandons us. God is with us. God is waiting with open arms to receive the anxiety and uncertainties of our lives. Take courage.

“Wisdom” 12/1/16

fork-in-the-roadSometimes, we have to live quietly, patiently, and faithfully in the ambiguity of life and trust that God’s in charge. Other times, we must take a stand, face what is ahead, and walk toward the unknown with courage, boldness, and decisiveness and yes, even then, trust that God is in charge. Lord, give us the wisdom to know that YOU are the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, and we are the created, redeemed, and sustained.


Eric Cooter

“Integrity” A Civil Air Patrol Core Value

by Ch. Maj. Eric Cooter, CAP Group 5 flyingChaplain/Unit Chaplain

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “Integrity” both as “the quality of being honest and fair,” as well as “the state of being complete or whole.”  When most of us think of integrity, the characteristics of honesty and fairness usually come to mind.  However, a life of honesty and fairness requires us to be emotionally, physically, as well as spiritually whole.  Wholeness means that we are living in a state of “not lacking or leaving out any part.”

Life’s circumstance can often leave us lacking.  When we are physically ill or we experience an injury, our entire state of wholeness shifts.  Our mental state becomes challenged, we may become despondent, and our spirit focuses on the negative. When our emotional state is challenged because of stress, we often feel that emotion in our guts or for some of us, our immune system becomes compromised and we catch a cold or some other minor illness.  When we overlook our spiritual practices, or we fail to care for our spiritual selves, we may experience the emotions of despondency, fear, or a lack of peace.

Alternatively, when we exercise and eat properly, when we take time for meditation, prayer, or other spiritual/religious practices, and when we spend quality time with friends and family, our health tends to improve, we focus more on the positive, and we feel more connected to others and the world around us.  An online Mayo Clinic article states, “Taking the path less traveled by exploring your spirituality can lead to a clearer life purpose, better personal relationships and enhanced stress management skills.”(1)

We are a whole person that cannot be divided.  We are more than mere mental and physical functions. We are intelligent, emotional, and spiritual beings, who require balance in order to be whole.   An aircraft engine requires fuel, air, and spark to run properly, and if any of those things are out of balance, the engine does not run at its optimum level.

Accomplishing our individual mission tasks and working together as a team, to insure we accomplish our team mission requires all of us to function at our optimum level.

Living the core values of CAP can be a challenge for all of us, but achieving our goals, accomplishing the mission, and living a life of “honesty and fairness,” living as a person of integrity requires each of us to be whole.  Like packing up your “mission bag” with MRE’s and water purification tablets, or conducting a pre-flight before starting the engine, begin the practice of taking care of yourself and your mission readiness.  Eat well, get plenty of rest, have fun and play, spend time with your family and friends, study and work to improve your skills, and take care of your spirit.  Pray, meditate, and consider committing to a frequent observance of the religious practices of your faith tradition.  Commit to be your whole self, your balanced self, and your best self.  Live with integrity!