Archive for January 26th, 2012

Sweetness in the Midst of Sorrow

January 26, 2012

I wanted to share the opening of this story by Alison Thompson of Miami from the February 2012 issue of Guideposts because it demonstrates that gentle sweetness and quiet beauty can exist even in the midst of chaos and horror. I believe that experiences like this are what Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis had in mind when he said, “You’ve got to look hard for the sparks of divinity in the ashes of atrocity.”


Alison Thompson

That morning I zoomed through another set of red lights on my Rollerblades, heading downtown in Manhattan. I had a pretty hefty first-aid kit and a small bottle of perfume in my backpack.

People streamed toward me, disoriented, their hair and clothes covered in soot, holding cell phones, trying to get a signal. I pushed forward. Soon I was alone in a blizzard of ash. The ground rumbled, and I dove under a UPS truck for cover.

The second tower of the World Trade Center had just collapsed.

I grew up in Australia, my dad a preacher, my mum a nurse. I had been a nurse’s aide at Mum’s hospital in my teens. More recently in New York I’d been a freelance filmmaker. That day, September 11, 2001, I skated downtown, thinking that I could help somehow.

Without really knowing it, I had also skated into a new role: passionate volunteer.

In the sooty darkness I said a prayer asking God for strength. I darted out from under the UPS truck. I took a whiff of perfume to ward off the stench of smoke then made my way into a store and commandeered a pair of (more…)