A Priest on the Front Line
An 'honest-to-goodness' Episcopal minister encounters survivors who won't take 'It'll all be okay' for an answer.
Tuesday morning began with deceptive banality: a visit to the gym, morning prayer, and a breakfast meeting. Walking south on Seventh Avenue, I noticed an uncharacteristically stationary group of New Yorkers. Someone said, "Look up!" I looked to see the World Trade Towers wreathed in smoke. I went back to the rectory to change into clerical attire and arranged for the parish staff to open our church, located just a block from St. Vincent's Hospital, a principal destination for the injured and dying. The rest of the day I stayed on the street, meeting ambulances, blessing the sick, commending the dying, and talking to people who waited.
There was an air of unreality about everything that was happening, the unreality manifested in the way that we accepted and seemed resigned to the most improbable and awful things. I met many of the ambulances as they delivered their patients to the hospital, and usually gave a blessing and