Every year I would bring the youth from my parish into New York City to visit a few famous places: Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but always the top of the World Trade Towers. I can vividly remember going up in the two sets of elevators; you had to change elevators half way up. I remember they were extremely fast. Once you got to the top there was that view in every direction. There was nothing like it. You could see past Staten Island, you could see the Bronx, across New Jersey and all the way into Suffolk. In a single sweeping glance you could see everything just as God sees the world. It was a “window on the world.” I had seen the view many times but it never ceased to take one’s breath away. I imagined my uncle the ironworker walking around these very steel girders as he helped build the towers so many years ago. It was such an awesome sight that I could not even bring myself to sit in the little recessed window seats. It was all so overwhelming. Outside was the immensity of God’s creation; and just for a minute I was seeing things just as He did. Perhaps that is why it was so overwhelming.
On this particular visit, something caught my eye—it was the other 1,776-foot tower which stood only140 feet away. It was as if you could reach across and touch the other tower. What caught my eye in particular were the windows. On top was the famous “Windows on the World” restaurant where the elite of New York dined. I could see them all sitting there in luxury, but just below them was a cleaning lady sitting at her dusty trolley eating a sandwich. Below were all the common folk. Each tableau oblivious to the other. And as I looked around at the rest of the façade I could see people below at work at their desks, someone at a copy machine, someone making coffee, someone snoozing. Each individual person framed in the silver window frame of the exterior of the building. Each of them looked like a framed picture. They looked like individual pictures of loved ones set up on a shelf. It is the last living image I have of the towers.
A few weeks after that visit it all collapsed. I have written before about the towers, but these are the last images I have in memory of them. I can still see the framed faces of each one of them. It truly was a “Windows on the World.” Not so much windows for us looking out from our individual perspective, but windows looking in from outside. To see us as God sees each of us from His heavenly perspective. Each and every unique person lovingly framed by God so that He might gaze upon the face of each one of those whom He had created in His image and likeness—never to be forgotten.
On Monday, Americans, wherever they may be, will stop and remember at 8:46 AM, at 9:03 AM, at 9:37 AM, and at 10:03 AM. We will remember all day. Tomorrow morning bells will toll in church towers from North to South, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, across America as we stop and remember our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and fellow Americans. We will remember those whom we never knew. Each individual framed lovingly before God so the He may look upon them for all eternity.
– Fr. Gerard Gordon