Where were you ten years ago today, on 9/11/01?
I was on my way to teach a Freshman Composition course and noticed a crowd of people hovered around a television in the student lounge area I was passing through. I stopped to see what they were gaping at. New York City was being attacked? Was this really happening? In America? On a Tuesday morning? While the sun was shining?
Something reminded me of the time, so I rushed off to class, trying to force my mind back to work. What was I supposed to be teaching today? Oh yeah–C.S. Lewis’s essay “Learning in War-Time.” Wow. I couldn’t have planned that. I looked up: “How did that happen, God?” Things like that really make my head spin.
Amazingly, all but one student actually pulled themselves away from television sets and came to class. The discussion was, to understate it, relevant. Lewis was addressing his own students at Oxford just as World World II was beginning, and his insights help us to understand any crisis: “Do not let your nerves and emotions lead you into thinking your predicament more abnormal than it is,” he says. Death and disaster can strike anyone on any day of the week.
What to do? If we’re in a position to help, we should do our duty and join the rescue team or the clean-up crew. If not, we shouldn’t let fear or frustration or obsessive curiosity paralyze us.
This is still life. This moment, like all moments, is packed with grace and beauty but also something God is asking of us. Lewis said elsewhere (maybe in Screwtape Letters), “Temporal affairs are primarily material for obedience.”
Whatever God has called you to do, keep doing it. Keep learning, keep writing, keep reading. Lewis’s essay is perfect reading for today. Here it is: Learning in War-Time by C.S.Lewis (if the link doesn’t work, you can Google the title and find it on a number of sites).