May 15, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 246
Crisis Of Ordination
Revisiting Vigilance's Ground Zero
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 15--Today, I'm revisiting
Ground Zero. I'm going with my sister, visiting
New York from Last Vegas, to the core of Terrorism. We
will view the original wound, the epicenter that changed my
life and symbolizes the vulnerability of America to be victimized
by the shadows of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
and forty seven days ago, as the earth shuddered and the giant
edifices of modern civilization crumbled, I thought I was sucking
in my last breath. The roar of Hell deafened the
ears, and the choking cloud of of ash and concrete and particles
of human bodies entered my body, co-mingling with my blood,
consecrating me a "Victim of Nine-Eleven," and forcing
me into a "Crisis Of Ordination!"
Would I change
my life in the face of death?
all the cells in my body revolt against the threat of Terrorism
and vow to spend the rest of their lives in combat against Terrorism's
insidious cancer, or, would I crumble under the weight of such
a task? Would I complacently like so many others, consider the
attack merely a dot in time, an aberration to our internal and
external security, and go about my life with Terrorism nothing
more than a memory rather than a living beast that I fought
daily, tirelessly, knowing I could never be victorious but still
drawing my sword and pen against it nevertheless?
I do not have
a total answer to that question.
But for the
past but for the past nine months every waking moment has been
consumed by the battle between the fallout of Terrorism--Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency and the Shield of Vigilance which
combats its insurgency into the mind and body: Courage,
Conviction and Right Action.
be another test.
face will stare at me in its new form. The wound
is healing. The destruction is being erased.
The great earth movers and giant bulldozers have leveled the
wound of September 11th, turning it into a construction site
rather than a pock of vile hatred, enhanced by twisted metal
forming the graves of innocent victims.
pile of dirt has been sifted and resifted for body parts, and
the final death warrants have been issued as the search for
resolution of the dead has officially ended. Now,
a new edifice will be built. The grass will grow
on the gravesite.
Flowers will bloom again. The cycle of life will consume
the exclamation of death and destruction.
see all that today with my sister.
see history replacing death and destruction with the pavement
of evolution. I will see the wounds of the past healed
and the sunrise climbing up to dawn a new day.
And I will
wonder if my time has passed. I will question the
importance of writing daily about Terrorism as the sprigs of
life rise out of the graves of the dead.
This will be
my crisis of ordination.
Should I continue
my quest to alert the world to the ravages of Terrorism, to
the tiny seeds of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency that find
their way into the minds of children, issued there by Parents
and Guardians and Societies of Complacency, who, like the earth
itself prefer to move forward with life rather than to dwell
in the past of death and destruction?
This is more
than just a mere question.
have had little response. I have not marketed my
messages with the passion of a man on a crusade, using my energies
instead to compile a compendium of feelings which are not subject
to mass public opinion, words not driven by how the "readers
feel," but rather how "I feel."
This effort has been
a test of my faith to commit myself to spending the rest of
my life in the battle against Terrorism. If I am driven
to write from within, rather than be motivated by the viewpoints
of the public, then I will have proven to myself that I am not
writing these epistles for the grandeur of acceptance by others,
but rather than from my heart and soul where the dust of destruction
on September 11th and its ultimate Terror still remain alive
and well in my lungs and blood.
Daily, I check my e-mail
to see if anyone has responded to my words.
Daily, the screen is blank. Still I write, as though
I were the audience, the mass of people to whom I dedicate my
messages of Vigilance. My singular support is my
wife who edits my words and picturizes them. She
represents my audience, diligently supporting me in the face
of a world that is deaf my words.
I am Terrorized sometimes
by the thought that no one really cares about becoming a Parent
of Vigilance--not deep in one's marrow--not in the darkest corners
of one's soul. I except those victims of Nine Eleven,
the parents, wives, husbands, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers,
sisters, loved ones of those who were lost. I know
they feel as I do. They will never forget that day,
as I won't.
But what about the 100
million other households in America, and the six billion other
people walking the face of the earth? Are their
lives so consumed with the daily pressures of living and surviving
that they cannot, or will not, or don't have the time to fight
And if not, does
that mean my messages are moot?
Is today the crisis
of ordination for me?
Last evening I went to New York Union Theological Seminary where
my daughter and three other Catholic women participated in a
special graduation ceremony celebrating their completion of
a three-year study to earn their Master of Divinity Degree.
It was a beautiful
ceremony, held in a small chapel where some of the most powerful
Catholic women in the world were collected in a circle to honor
those about to embark on a mission of spiritual Vigilance.
Candles lit the room and
each graduate brought a symbol of their commitment and shared
it with the group, giving thanks to all those who had helped
them achieve a lifelong goal of scholastic and vocational spiritualism.
A Chinese-American woman
passed out red-colored eggs, a symbol of good fortune from her
culture, and spoke of her ancestral village in China and gave
thanks to all those who had prayed for her and held her in their
thoughts on her quest.
Another woman, a television producer,
brought her videos of total immersion that have been seen around
the world, and spoke of the calling she enjoyed to not just
film the elements of faith, but to learn how to deliver them
An Irish graduate told of her
gratitude to her family and friends. She is from
the war-torn land where Protestants and Catholics kill one another
in the name of religion, and hoped she might in some small way
through her training, provide spiritual salve to the lingering
wounds of hatred and violence in her homeland.
And, finally, there was our daughter.
She brought a salt shaker, symbolizes the bitter-sweet tears
of both joy and happiness that she shed during her first year,
when she left her children at the babysitter to go to school,
and wondered if her commitment to spiritualism was in some way
in conflict with her duties of motherhood. Her crying
continued all the way to school, and as her first class of the
morning began, she tasted the salt of her tears, knew the pain
of separation from her family and wondered if she was doing
the right thing. Her thesis dealt with these perplexing
issues a woman of God faces - does God or family come first
- or can they be balanced.
It was a joyous event.
But a startling one.
Afterwards, we went to a Guatemalan
restaurant to celebrate. One of the people joining
us had sewn our daughter's spiritual stole. The symbols beautifully
incorporated into it were lovingly provided by my wife and I,
her sister, her husband, her children and their life in God..
Her name is Lisa. She is a 1989 graduate of Union Theological,
a Presbyterian minister working with the homeless.
I spoke with her during the meal and she told me about her "crisis
After completing her spiritual
education at Union, she began to wonder about her worthiness
to preach the word, to minister
from the pulpit about faith. For two and a half years
following her graduation there were two issues she pondered
1.) was she worthy to stand at the altar and proclaim the word
of God, and 2.) was she prepared to make a life-long commitment
to do so?
I listened intently.
I had never heard the words--"Crisis
of Ordination"--and as I queried her, I was also probing
myself with similar questions. Was I worthy of promoting
the faith to fight Terrorism? Was I worthy of being
the Voice of Vigilance? Was I willing to commit
my every waking moment to the challenges of making my writings
the core of my existence when there were so many other avenues
I could follow that would lead me to "normal destinations"
of a provider, a husband, a father, a grandfather?
I had earned little money over the past nine months and could
I afford to commit my life to something that offered no economic
And, most importantly,
I wanted to know about ordination. Who was it that
authorized another to be "the Keeper of the Word?"
What authority did I have to assume command of the Voice of
In her church, she told me she was required to take certain
tests prior to being ordained, and that a group of peers authorized
her ordination. She told me of her struggle
to decide whether this was indeed what she wanted.
In my daughter's case,
women are excluded from the rights of ordination in the Catholic
Church. Only men are allowed to speak from the pulpit,
either as ordained priests or deacons. Women
aren't authorized to convey the Word.
To my surprise, I learned
that many faiths exclude women from having the right to speak
the Word from the pulpit. They were denied ordination,
as the Catholics deny women that right.
I also learned that many
churches ordain their ministers without any formal education.
The congregation can decide if someone has "the Word"
within them, and can appoint that person leader of that particular
church, thereby ordaining him or her to issue the Word of Faith
with the congregation's authority. Lisa talked about a
13-year-old boy one Baptist congregation had ordained.
Perhaps, I thought, ordination
did not require some authority from above, some body of critics
to decide whether one had the authority to proclaim the Word.
I felt slightly better about my right to speak as an authority
on Terrorism and Vigilance.
But I didn't have a Ph.D.
in my subjects. I had a lifetime of experience with
both elements, but no formalized paper granting me authority,
no deed to Vigilance.
And, the commitment....
As I sat with my family watching my daughter's face glow with
the pride of accomplishment, the knowledge that she had achieved
a tremendous milestone in her scholastic spiritual life, I felt
the bitter-sweet tears of ordination.
Long ago I had grasped
onto Winston Churchill's famous saying--"Stand For Something
Or Be Nothing!"
As I listened to others
speaking, my mind swirled around his words. Churchill
had fought great odds to rise up as the Sentinel of Vigilance
for England. He was half-American and half-English.
He was a social outcast in the inner true-blood circles of English
politics and fought for his right to be accepted as the nation's
leader of Vigilance.
He wrote heartily about
his "crisis of ordination," about his struggle to
find acceptance in a world of critics.
Perhaps, I thought, if
I were to embrace his words--Stand For Something Or Be Nothing--they
might, by themselves, be sufficient for me to be ordained within
myself, as he was within himself.
Perhaps the calling of the goal of Vigilance was in itself the
power and authority, and did not require the auspices of any
group or the official seal of any tribunal judging my words
or their intent.
So, today, when I visit
Ground Zero, I will stand before the Sentinels of Vigilance
whom I believe reside above the core of the wound of Terrorism
in the form of Spirits of Vigilance, ever watchful for signs
of attack from both without and within.
I will ask their permission
to be ordained. And I will live with their answer.
TO: May 14--Vigilance of Rain & Tears