Thursday, September 15, 2011

The miraculous rescue of 9/11

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just.
 – John 5:28-30
This is the testimony of Genelle Guzman-McMillan who was the last person pulled out alive from the rubble of the World Trade Center on 9/11. She spent 27 hours buried alive before being rescued.

Last World Trade Center Survivor Tells of Meeting God in the Rubble
Trapped under concrete and steel with her right hand pinned under her body and legs crushed beneath a steel beam, Guzman-McMillan extended her left hand into the sliver of open space above her and found the strength to pray ... and pray and pray. Unsure of her eternal fate, Guzman-McMillan pleaded for hours with God to forgive her of her sins and to give her another chance.

"I said to Him, 'please, God, if you save me today ... give me a second chance, I promise I will do Your will," Guzman-McMillan told the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), adding that she was serious about the promises she made that day.

Her hand still extended above her in the pocket of open space, Guzman-McMillan asked God to send her a sign that He had heard her plea.

"Someone grabbed me by my hand and called me by my name, saying, 'Genelle, I've got you. My name is Paul," she recounted for CBN.

"I was asking God for a miracle, for a sign [and Paul] held my hand so tight ... reassuringly," Guzman-McMillan told CP, adding that she was sure she was not hallucinating.

Within minutes of Paul's appearing, Guzman-McMillan could hear rescue workers calling out for survivors.

Sometimes when I spend time in silent prayer, just trying to be in the presence of God and allowing his voice to speak to me I receive some bit of wisdom. The other day I was repeating the prayer of the Rosary in Spanish. The last words are, "... ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amen." Which in English is "... now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

I prefer the Spanish. And as I was repeating it, I was struck by the beauty of the words, "ahora y en la hora" because of the poetic quality of the repetition of the word "ahora" followed by "la hora". "Now" and "at the time". But in Spanish the meaning is slightly different. It is more like "at this time" and "at the time" or "at this hour" and "at the hour".

It has a cadence like the ringing of a bell. It is a memento mori, a constant reminder of the moment of death. A reminder that at the moment of death, all the things that seem so important now will have little importance then. It is in this awareness where we find God waiting for us, reaching out his hand to touch us.

When I first learned to recite the Rosary I was repulsed by these words. They seemed so morbidly Catholic. It reminded me of somber scenes of my Grandmother with a black veil covering her head. It had the feel of a funeral. But now I have learned to embrace these words and see the profound beauty in them. Reciting them changes you inside. It opens your heart and softens it just a little bit with each repetition.

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