I just e-mailed this letter to the editor of our local newspaper...
On the fifth anniversary of the worst attack on American soil, a group of people gathered in front of the downtown fire station our small town. We are far away from New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, yet this little town south of the Red River understands community in a way that extends beyond geography.
Since my family moved here in 2003, I have again and again been impressed with the sense of community here. I have experienced it among the pastors and church members here. I have seen it in the precious time that many in our town give to volunteer work. I have witnessed it as the community rallies around folks in need. What other community of our size can boast of so many active clubs, organizations, and groups? As people decry the isolation and individualism of the modern world and small towns disband service organizations due to lack of interest, this town surprises me.
True, we face some huge challenges. The social problems of the world are here–substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, broken families, and the like. We wring our hands over them like everyone else. There are many even within our midst who are lonely and disconnected. Still, I have hope because of the grace God has already given us. Our sense of community suggests a way forward.
9/11 reminded us of words like sacrifice, compassion, faith, and community, yet they are more than words. They are a calling to a way of life. Perhaps I am naive, but I think our city just might be receptive to that call.