These next weeks I will be posting material from my upcoming book, Chirps From The PiIe. It is a memoir of sorts of my time as chaplain at Ground Zero in the weeks following 9/11. Hopefully it is much more than that.

My prayer is that the reader will feel the gut punch that was 9/11. It is not my purpose to rehearse salacious details or to open old wounds. What I hope to accomplish is to get us all to ask a few questions on the 20th anniversary of the worst attack ever on U.S. soil.

Two decades later, what have we learned?

What became of the rubble?

What about the rubble in our own lives?

Does God leave us to languish in the debris fields of despair?

Is there hope for an outcome that we didn’t expect?

firefighter with equipment
Firefighter wearing a device called a PASS alarm

Click here to listen to PASS Alarm.

The following is from a chapter titled The Chirps of Ground Zero

“It was hard to find sleep on the night of September 11th, 2001. As I lay in bed after a day of non-stop exposure to the unfolding tragedy, my first thought was tied to the last image I saw before turning the television off.

By now the networks all had their assets deployed, covering every possible aspect of the historic day, using every angle afforded them—including aerial shots from helicopters. There was one final clip showing the devastation from above. The smoke. The fires. And the first responders who climbed the precipitous rubble searching for survivors. They had formed a bucket brigade. All of this together made for a surreal scene.

Somehow, in my heart, I knew I would soon be down inside of that chasm in Manhattan, helping those people in the bucket brigade.

The news anchor had the sense to be quiet and let the film speak for itself. You could hear sounds you might hear at construction sites. But almost like white noise in the background, there was another sound. I recognized it as being familiar, but I couldn’t identify it.

What is that eerie sound?

“I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen as the news coverage opened a 24-hour window into everything that took place at Ground Zero. And there was that eerie sound that continued throughout the coverage.

What is it?

It reminds me of something, yet I can’t quite place it.

It sounded like the smoke alarm in your house when there is a power outage. It also sounded a lot like crickets on a sultry summer night. Commentators on that early aerial footage at Ground Zero called it “chirping.” As it turned out, what I saw that first night on TV and—more to the point—what I heard, was the sound of firefighters buried in the rubble.

Firefighters wear a personal safety alert system (PASS) device that sounds an alarm to notify others when they are in trouble. If the firefighter in question still has the ability, they can trigger it themselves. But the alarm can also be triggered when a firefighter has not moved for a certain amount of time.

That haunting sound from the pile as I watched news coverage was the chirping of PASS alarms from 300 heroic souls who were trapped.

They are alone . . .

They are unable to move . . .

Their supply of oxygen is running out . . .

Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, there is another type of rubble and a whole lot of noise taking place in our nation. And still, if you listen carefully, there are other sounds. Warning sounds. Distress calls.

We ignore the chirps at our peril.”

 
The book will hopefully be launched in July. I am available for speaking engagements and interviews.  As I mentioned last time, gifts to the Jude 3 Fellowship are greatly appreciated but know that they are no longer able to be used for IRS charitable deduction purposes. I may be reached at P.O. Box 667 Monmouth, OR 97361 or at jim@jude3fellowship.com

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