There is Goodness Still

Twenty years ago, I was on a plane headed from one intense situation to another, from volunteering in India after a devastating earthquake to starting a new chapter as a seminary student. When my friend and I boarded that plane, we were exhausted, we were disillusioned from a difficult journey, we had Bollywood songs floating through our heads, and we didn’t know that our lives would be altered while on that flight.

Mid-Atlantic, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that due to a “political situation” our plane was being re-rerouted from New York City to Montreal, Canada. People began standing up from their seats and demanding more information, and when none was given, they took the initiative of calling from their mobile phones (which at the time was nearly unheard of) to find out more.

Planes had been hijacked? Crashed into the World Trade Center? Thousands had died?

These words spilled out into the plane from the man on the phone, and we looked at each other – friends, families, strangers – with astonishment and growing fear.

Decades, later, I remember those minutes on the plane with the veneer of time. The exact emotions I felt then, and in the following days, are distant from me now. But I know that as a young adult in my early twenties, this was a pivotal moment.

I went straight into seminary after this – traumatized by my proximity to these terrorist attacks, disturbed by a difficult summer before I’d even boarded that plane, perplexed by the complexity of humanity, devastated by the depth of sorrow and loss in the world, horrified by the unfathomable evils that people can perpetrate against each other.

There was much for me to process as a young adult, and I remember the heaviness I carried for years afterwards.

Yet, the overriding memory of that time, when I look back all these years later, is this:

There is goodness still.

I began my theological studies and immediately found a best friend with whom I could sing. I wrote a song about my experience, and together my friend and I sang this refrain to other seminary students who were also traumatized by this event.

Together, we reminded each other of this truth:

There is goodness still.

Nearly a decade later, the refrain continued when my son was born on that day. And now, it’s that event that fills my thoughts on September 11th. My day centers around celebrating the life, the joy, the rowdiness, the mischievousness, the sweetness, the tenderness that came into our family on that day.

There is goodness still.

I woke up this morning to messages from my seminary friends reminding me of that refrain that we sang so many years ago.

And 20 years later, I believe it to be true.

On September 11th, 2001, I could see it in the kind gestures of strangers on that flight as we faced this catastrophe together. The woman who saw me crying in the bathroom and asked if I was ok. The fellow travelers who shared stories over a meal at the Montreal ski resort where we were put up. The dear friend with whom I shared that terrifying flight. The Bollywood songs that comforted us in our sleeplessness. The darling woman named Lily, our roommate for the night.

I saw goodness in the new friends I met so quickly when classes began. In the songs that filled nearly every day of my life for the next few years. In the laughter that felt like such a gift after witnessing such heartbreak.

There is goodness still.

And here we are, in 2021, needing that refrain once again.

We lean into the future with a pandemic in our midst, uncertain how to move forward. Climate change brings us frightening new realities. Refugees seek places of safety.

Yet, at my core I believe those words, and I offer them up again:

There is goodness still.

I am thankful to my friends for reminding me this morning of that truth, and for bringing me such joy in the face of tragedy all those years ago.

Together, let’s sing these words, remember them, and never forget them:

There is goodness still.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks, Kiran, What a beautiful message.

    Love, Sib

    On Sun, Sep 12, 2021 at 3:35 AM Kiran Young Wimberly wrote:

    > kiranyoungwimberly posted: ” Twenty years ago, I was on a plane headed > from one intense situation to another, from volunteering in India after a > devastating earthquake to starting a new chapter as a seminary student. > When my friend and I boarded that plane, we were exhausted, we wer” >

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