A flight to New York, late September, 2001:
I saw Ground Zero last evening. Marie told me to look for the hole. I said I did not think anything would be visible. Weather was poor, flight path not close. I was wrong.
After flying mostly above the clouds from Norfolk while the sun set and a gray and turbulent descent, visibility underneath was crystal clear with urban lights glowing off the cloud base. The Verazzano Bridge was a positive fix. To the west, the Statue of Liberty was lighted with her torch and crown shining gold even at a distance. Up New York Harbor the buildings of lower Manhattan rose like dark cliffs from the water. Emanating from the ground in their midst was a bright light, volcanic in intensity. The source of the light hidden by the dark sided buildings. Unearthly. Strange. An apocalyptic radiance of catastrophe. Its brightness made starker by the dark shadows of the standing structures. Ground Zero indeed. An opening to hell… except for the light’s color.
The light was pure, clear, white. White; all colors, but no color. White; the color of heaven, the color of snow, of summer cloud, the color of hope.
I stayed with my face against the airplane window until the vision was well past. There were glimpses of the arc lamps illuminating rescue and reclamation efforts – almost blinding in the night, but then the source was shielded again and only the fountain of light flooded up and out making the clouds as white as day. The rain had restarted when we got off at La Guardia and the wind was cold, biting, from the north. The summer of 2001 is gone. And there is a lighted hole in Manhattan and our country’s soul.