The VigilanceVoice

Wednesday-- May 15, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 246

Crisis Of Ordination
Revisiting Vigilance's Ground Zero
Cliff McKenzie
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.
         Two-hundred 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?
          Would 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.
         Today will be another test.
         Ground Zero's 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. 
          The last 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.  
          I will see all that today with my sister.
          I will 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.
         My writings 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 Terrorism daily?
        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 from within.
      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 of Ordination."  
      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 return?
       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 Vigilance?
       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.

G0 TO:  May 14--Vigilance of Rain & Tears

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