Waking Up on 9/11 by Christina Ray Stanton

Waking Up on 9/11

The loud roar of an airplane interrupted my thoughts as I walked down Madison Avenue. I glanced up into the tranquil blue sky above, but surrounded by the tall buildings, I couldn't locate the plane. My heart pounding, I ran for cover, sprinting down the sidewalk and ducking under the awning of a nearby office building. I hugged the concrete wall as the jet screamed overhead, and slowly faded away to the west. I realized I was shaking. Cautiously, I stepped back out onto the sidewalk, and looked up. No sign of the plane, only a wisp of a white tail in its wake. Relief flooded through me.

It's been over a month since the attacks; I can't keep freaking out every time a plane flies overhead. Get yourself together, Christina! That was probably a military jet monitoring the airspace over Manhattan.

I sheepishly resumed my walk through midtown, toward the offices of Redeemer Presbyterian. My feet felt heavy and slow. I began regretting my mission.

I can't believe I let my friend Michelle talk me into this. Why did I agree to go to some random church to ask for money from a 9/11 Victim Fund? Yes, Brian and I have been struggling since the attacks—but this is so embarrassing! I've never had to ask any organization for help. And here I am asking a church . . . when I haven't had much of a relationship with God since high school.

With my eyes still darting apprehensively into the skies, I finally reached the front entrance to the nondescript building. I willed myself up to the 16th-floor lobby, and the receptionist pointed to an empty room. "Please wait in there. Someone will be in to see you shortly," he said.

As I got situated in the small, windowless room, two women entered, shutting the door behind them. "Hello, I'm Andrea, the Diaconate director here at Redeemer, and this is my assistant, Honya."

"Hello, thanks for meeting with me," I said as they sat down in the two chairs opposite mine. A bottle of water and a box of tissues sat on a small coffee table next to my chair.

"The water is for you if you need it," Honya offered in a low, soft tone.

Andrea asked gently, "Please tell us, where were you on September 11, 2001?"

The Attack

On the morning of September 11, Brian shook me awake. "Get up! Get up!" he yelled, "Someone's bombed the World Trade Center!"

I struggled to sit up in bed, wondering what time it was. I blinked at the clock. It was 8:47 a.m. One glimpse of the fear in my husband's eyes jolted me fully awake.


Christina Ray Stanton was the director of Missions at Redeemer Presbyterian Church for a decade, and her husband Brian is Redeemer’s long-time CFO. A professional speaker and award winning author (www.christinaraystanton.com), she is also a licensed NYC tour guide who specializes in 9/11 history. Christina and Brian are the founders of the non-profit Loving All Nations (www.lovingallnations.org).

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