Sharing words of hope, comfort after tragedy


September 17, 2001|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ABOUT THE TIME I was supposed to be interviewing someone for this column, I was waiting to hear from my husband, who had left for Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 6 a.m. Tuesday to catch a flight to Indiana.

I also was waiting to hear from relatives in New York, including my brother-in-law Ray, who works in Lower Manhattan, and my brother Tom, whose train stops at the World Trade Center every morning about 8:30 before reaching the law firm where he works.

The topic I had planned to write about for this column would have to wait. After learning that my relatives are safe, I've decided that back-to-school programs or other community successes are secondary this week.

I'm reminded of one goal that I've always had for this column: make it a place to find good news and hope when other news stories slap us back to horrible realities.

Last week, when we were struggling to make sense of the senseless acts in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, I joined the Western Maryland College community at Baker Memorial Chapel for a brief afternoon service.

"More now than ever, each one of us has a special responsibility to care and to demonstrate that caring on campus," college President Joan Develin Coley told the community. "Reach out beyond your circle of friends and be there for all who may need you."

During this service, a candlelight vigil and a prayer service that evening, the community was offered comfort, especially in the words of Ira Zepp, professor emeritus of religious studies.

"It seems as if the center is not holding, that we are all in pieces and all coherence is gone," Zepp said. "Our country, our family and our college have experienced an unparalleled tragic rupture and violation of our lives, a reminder of our own mortality and the cries of grief caused by the deaths of many of our fellow citizens. ...

"Let us not forget that at the heart of every religion and culture there is a kernel of love and mercy, indeed at the center of the universe there is a heart and we want our hearts to beat with that rhythm of loving kindness and justice. We want that kernel of love and mercy to grow and bear the fruit of peace in our lives. ...

"Therefore, we will not allow rage, anger and protest be the last word. In spite of this day's events, we will strive to have the strength to love, to forgive, to utter `yes' to life in spite of its apparent absurdity," Zepp said. "We will never again take each other for granted, and will have in each other the deepest personal trust and for each other the most profound respect."

"I needed to hear his reaffirming words," said Western Maryland senior Erin Clarke of Finksburg. "In the wake of all the cries for retaliation, I appreciated hearing some positive truths about our humanity."

The full text of Zepp's comments can be found at www.wmdc. edu.

Living treasure honored

Western Maryland College Professor Tom Zirpoli honors his 14-year-old daughter, Julia, as his living treasure this week.

"She allowed me to share some shopping time with her as we picked out a homecoming dress and shoes," Zirpoli said. "I was honored to take part in this tradition usually left to moms."

Living Treasures in Carroll County are featured at the end of this column each week. Send in a few lines honoring a person who has made a difference in your life. That person's gesture of kindness may be big or small. What matters is that it made a positive difference. Contributions may be mailed to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157.

Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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