Ten years ago I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, just like I am tonight.
I was 14 on September 11, 2001. Now, I’m 24 (I’m great at math, can’t you tell?) and I am back in the Land of Smiles on September 11, 2011.
I was getting ready for bed when the planes hit the Twin Towers. It was Sunday evening our time, we’re 12 hours ahead, and I was preparing for another school day at my international school. My parents called me in the living room to watch the coverage. I plodded out in my PJs and sat cross-legged on our couch and watched in horror as the buildings crumbled like sand castles under the weight of a wave. I also watched the reports on the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
I grieved over the lost lives and the men and women who met their eternity without knowing Christ.
Today a friend and I visited my friend John’s home and met his 83-year old grandmother. John works in the red light district. He recently became a believer.
I grieved today again for those who lost their lives but also for John grandmother.
She’s a wisp of a woman–she looks if you hug her too hard she might break. She’s missing all of her teeth, but that doesn’t stop her from smiling.
I couldn’t help but notice the veins in her arms and hands. They tell of a long life– a life without knowing her Creator.
They’ve lived in this house all of John’s life.
A poster of a senior monk hangs over her bed. His grandmother talks about going to the wat, or temple, whenever she’s able, which isn’t as often as her earlier years because of her age.
We shared, but mostly John shared, about how we believe in God and go to church instead of the temple.
It’s all good, she said, all religions are good.
She showed us pictures from her and John’s youth. She struggled to keep her reading glasses on her nose as she flipped through the worn photos.
“He’s so cute,” she said. “Such a big baby he was.”
We talked about life and memories. We did a lot of smiling and laughing.
Before we left, we said a prayer over her. She held our hands and strained to listen to our English and broken Thai. She came over and hugged me, laying her head on my chest. This surprised me, hugging isn’t too common in Thai society.
Her sweet hug is a moment I’ll always remember.
I pray that she’ll love Jesus. My heart grieves to think of her not. It’s not too late–her eternity hasn’t come. But, like the fateful day 10 years ago, we’re never guaranteed another day.
Today is the day to share with that person your heart grieves for.