9 Sep 2011
One day, St Nicholas' Greek Orthodox Church will be rebuilt; the little church which was obliterated when the Towers fell.
And then perhaps in Septembers to come the bells wiil ring and the Kontakion will be recited.
'The Kontakion of the Dead is one of the most moving portions of the lservice. It is linked to the Ikhos, another hymn which follows it...It is also chanted during panikhidas (memorial services) which are conducted both before and after the funeral.
"Kontakion: With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Thy servant, where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.
'Ikhos: Thou alone art immortal, who hast created and fashioned man.
'But we mortals are formed of earth, and unto dust shall we return, as thou who madest me didst command and say unto us, 'For thou art dust, and to dust shalt thou return.
'Whither, also, all we mortals wend our way, making as a funeral dirge the song:
"Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia".
...During the procession, the bells are tolled.
"In the Russian tradition, the funeral toll is called Perebor.
'Each individual bell is struck once, from the smallest to the largest, in a slow, steady peal. After that, all of the bells are struck together at the same time. Striking the bells from the smallest to the largest symbolizes the stages of a person's life from birth to death; the final striking of all the bells together symbolizes the end of this earthly life"...
(And imagine if one September 11, in time to come, all the churches of New York City that possess bells, from the smallest parish church to the great Catholic and Episcopal Cathedrals, but led by St Nicholas's at Ground Zero, were to perform an equivalent of the 'perebor' together, at the same time of day as the Towers were struck, and fell; the number of peals being determined by the average age of the victims. )
My final thought: an excerpt from this piece by an Australian who was in New York and witnessed the attacks:
She was in the Millennium Hotel. She says "I watched at the window while the enormity of the disaster began to unfold, watched as we realized people were trapped on the floors above the explosion..
"People were throwing whatever they could out of the windows - tables, water coolers, etc - to break the glass and get air. I could see them hanging out of windows, then to my horror I realized people were beginning to jump to their death rather than being burned alive...And there was nothing I, or as it turned out, anyone else, could do to help.'
'I saw what I'm pretty sure was a policeman killed by a person who fell on him.
[and then, if you click on the link, you will see a photo she took]
and she says of the photo -
"There is a dead man about the middle of this shot of the courtyard below my hotel. He's wearing a pink shirt and white pants. I've often wondered if I could somehow track down his family, who would likely know what their husband/ father was wearing, and whether it would give them any comfort to know exactly what happened to him, **and that he didn't die alone, because I watched and prayed and cried as he died**."