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Between Heaven and Ground Zero

Eight Million Stories: One Song

It doesn’t matter what brings us to that place, only that we get there and what we leave owning. — AUTHOR UNKNOWN

February 20, 2005
1:30 P.M.

It was cold outside. The earth gave off gray nuances and the sun’s rays teased the sky. I love the way it looks when God’s breath meets with mine in the open air — something so big joining with some­thing so small to create a vapor so eternal. It reminds me that life is the only idea of something I can touch. It moves me beyond words —at least now it does.

I got off the PATH train at the place where it all began. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. Nothing happened in particu­lar . . . not really. Except that when my brain registered the location of my body and my foot hit the platform, forty-two months of spir­its and fear, and anger, and hope and pain and surrender, and guilt, and confusion and resolve, and confrontation and nightmares, and every prayer that ever was prayed for me collided in my world. They landed square on my shoulders, collapsed me at the knees, and deliv­ered me to 8:46 A.M. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I smelled it all . . . all over again, and I wanted to puke.

I looked around. It was all so familiar and yet nothing was as I remembered. I could place every building and every person exactly as they last were. For four hours I walked around that enormous, convicting tomb, begging the cosmos to infuse me with some answers that made even a tiny bit of sense. I watched the mounds of dirt breathe; half expecting them to give birth to two towers . . . as if Rome was built in a day.

I watched the mounds of dirt breathe; half expecting them to give birth to two towers.

Crowds of people gathered around that empty lot. Correction, hundreds gawked at an empty tomb. Wait a minute, at a place like this there are no “mere” people. There are artists creating, writing rhymes, making music and song. There are no individuals, just sto­ries. They say eight million of them compose this naked city. Mine is now a song that bellows and respires in the air, is unintelligible in dreams, and somehow gains vibrato in the open catacombs of Tower One of the World Trade Center.

For this is where I died . . .
This is where I was I born.
This song is the one that I was created to sing.
. . . it took me forever to get
                                                      here.


Excerpt from Chapter One of Leslie Haskin's Between Heaven and Ground Zero, Copyright 2006, Bethany House Publishers.

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