I grew up in New York City and visited the top of the World Trade Center with my new bride in 1980. Something very powerful happened within me after I witnessed the Twin Towers collapsing on television as I worked in my Michigan office. The horror of such an unimaginable event raised so many questions about life in general, and my life in particular. They were primarily spiritual in nature and from them my first novel was born. The purpose of this blog is to provide readers with insights and commentary about "A TIME TO..." along with related excerpts. I hope you enjoy them.
Excerpt #1 From "A TIME TO..."
A Dream... A Cartoon... and God...
At St. Peter’s Catholic Church on the lower east side of Manhattan, in the shadows of the World Trade Center’s imposing twin towers, a NYC fire department chaplain contemplated the dream he had the night before. He struggled to find meaning in it since the situation he had found himself in was so out of character. When was the last time he cleaned his living quarters? He had a housekeeper for as long as he could remember. But there he was in his dream dusting furniture and vacuuming the dirt from the floors. The other strange thing about his dream was that he couldn’t get rid of the dust. In fact, the more he cleaned, the more dust would appear. Finally, it got so bad that he began choking on the dust and that’s when he woke up.As he sipped his coffee, a passage from the book of Genesis came to mind. “…For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”
Maybe that was it, he thought to himself. The night before, he had discussed death at length with several firefighters at Ladder Company number six. It isn’t a subject the fire fighters spoke of often, even though they each knew friends who had lost their lives while battling fires. A couple of them almost died on the job. Frank was one of them.
“It happened so fast. One second there was a clear path to the door out, the next, nothing but flames between me and it,” Frank told Father Tom with horror in his voice. “I looked all over for another exit… other doors…. other windows. Flames and smoke were everywhere. We’re trained to deal with every situation, but for the life of me, nothing came to mind that would save me. My heart was racing. I was dripping sweat and thought I was about to die….”
“Oh, thank God you didn’t,” Father Tom interrupted. “How did you get out?”
”A strange thing happened. ‘God help me, God help me’ I whispered over, and over. Then all of a sudden, images came to mind of some cartoon I used to watch when I was a kid on Saturday mornings. The next thing I knew, I was running through the flames that blocked my way out, just like the character did in the cartoon. I don’t know how I got out without being burned.”
“That’s a good story. Do you mind if I use it in a homily some time?” asked Father Tom.
“Why? Don’t you think it’s weird?”
“Not at all. God works in mysterious ways.”
“I guess so. Sure, you can use it.”
“I’ve told you guys this before, but let me say it again,” Father Tom said with a lump in his throat. “You are my heroes. God has truly blessed you so that you can put your life on the line again and again for people you don’t even know – ‘For there is no greater love than to give one’s life for someone else.’”
“Father, can I ask you something?” whispered Steve, another firefighter.
“Certainly…anything,” Father Tom affirmed.
“Does God determine when we all die?” he asked as if he were a young child.
After a brief pause to collect his thoughts, Father Tom responded, “Let me first ask you this before I answer your question. Does God determine when we are born?”