Glad — September 10, 2011

Glad (1,265)

I had just finished a wonderful weekend in New Orleans, sharing from my recently-published novel entitled I’M…the legend of the son of man—a first-person account of the life of Jesus, including a description of what might have happened during the missing years from age twelve through thirty.  It had been a rich time, with audiences who were moved by the message and in entering the heart of the Master.

      I boarded a plane on Monday morning, September 10th, 2001, to return toNashville,Tennessee.  We had much work ahead of us. My dear partner Janet Clazzy, and I, had begun an orchestra in Sumner County, Tennessee.  It probably would have been wiser to open up a barbeque or a bait shop, but since there were plenty of those around, we opted for the “road less traveled.”  We had children in school and wanted to make sure there was a creative thrust in our county, with original music and an expression of artistic quality.  But mostly it was just fun.

      So we were scheduled to do a recording session the following morning—September 11th—to prepare for an upcoming concert, the debut of the orchestra, on Friday night, November 30th.  The response to the creation of an orchestra in the county had been surprisingly congenial and expansive.  Even the Oak Ridge Boys, who headquartered inHendersonville, had donated to see the project begin.  So we were excited.

      On that Tuesday morning we stopped off at a convenience store to get some coffee en route to the recording session, when a construction worker came running across the parking lot, shouting that an airplane had just hit theWorldTradeCenterinNew York City.  The words were surreal; the surroundings a bit unusual, and the gentleman providing the information—a trifle suspicious.  We didn’t think anything more about it, drove to our location and spent the next six hours recording.  When we emerged from our successful adventure, we stepped out into anAmericawith an entirely new face—one that had been scarred by the vicious attack of radical madmen.

      The next few days, all the information came to the forefront as we realized that three thousand of our brothers and sisters had been slain—supposedly in the name of a God which we believed to be a conveyor of love, not vengeance. 

      My conservative friends were mad.  They wanted revenge.  They wanted to head out into the streets with guns, to track down the perpetrators and shoot them like a rabid raccoon they’d find in their backyard tool shed.  The only trouble with “mad” is that when you’re unable to find the guilty parties, you might just accidentally end up hurting whoever “turbans up.” 

      My more liberal friends were sad.  Remorse was expressed, tears shed, lamentations stated, memorials planned and great heaviness filled their hearts.  The human spirit can only handle so much pain before the mind needfully shuts down. 

      On our part, we immediately got phone calls from contributors, wondering if we were going to cancel plans for the orchestra for the time being, and reschedule the concert.

      No. 

      “Yes” is a wonderful word, but in the face of insanity, “no” is even more powerful.

      I decided not to join my friends who were mad and I was weary of merely expressing sadness without having a plan on how to retrieve our once-vibrant spirit. 

      I chose glad.  Not “glad” in the sense of being happy over what had occurred, or even at peace with the aftereffects.  No—glad as an acronym.  G.L.A.D.:  Get Living and Doing.

      For the end result of being mad is to drive yourself insane with inadequate justice.  To pursue sad is to extinguish the energy that makes us believe that today is our potential and tomorrow is our joy.  But when you Get Living and Doing, you fight back against the tyranny of ignorance.

      We not only held that concert on November 30th, to standing room only, but in March of the following year, I wrote a tribute to the fallen souls (and the victorious ones) called Opus 9/11: A Day of Courage.  I put together a seven-piece orchestra and all that summer leading up to the first anniversary, we toured fromMichigan toFlorida, sharing a message of hope and victory.  The music was not morose, but rather, a reflection of the energy of the Big Apple and the bustling possibilities of the souls who went to work that day, believing they were making a difference.

      It was small.  I mean it was “small” in the sense that it didn’t gain any national attention, track down Osama bin Laden or stop the terrorists.  What it did was celebrate the fact that we are Americans and we do not believe in hurting people to get them to understand our religion and ways.  Many of us serve Jesus.  He taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to seek the ultimate reproach on those who hurt us by loving our enemies and leaving them baffled by our choice.

      In the midst of my journey, I fell ill with an infection and was hospitalized—but not before I had the chance to strike my blow for freedom.  We brought beauty to our home town by starting an orchestra that produced magnificent sounds of exaltation, and we saluted the fallen and the brave all over the eastern part of theUSby traveling with our seven-piece orchestra and tipping our hat to our fellow-Americans.

      On this tenth anniversary, I am still G.L.A.D.  I find myself in Perry Hall, Maryland, and I am still in the process of Getting Living And Doing.  So God bless America—but God bless us—as we reject the futility of revenge, and instead, pursue the power of individual freedom and the joy of living.

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