Come From Away

I am still reflecting on the impact of the 20th anniversary observance of the 9/11 attack on the United States. I was surprised by the emotions I felt about a story from so long ago that I thought I knew so well. Dorothy and I visited the World Trade Center National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in 2018. I showed a couple of pictures during Sunday’s service. While we were in NYC, we attended the Broadway show, Come From Away. It is a musical play based on a true story about the days following the attack. 

Come From Away is about the little community of Gander, Newfoundland, the home to a long disused international airline refueling station. On September 11, every airplane going or coming to the U.S. was required to land immediately. The Gander runway was big enough to land some of the international flights. In fact, 7,000 passengers, including infants and crewmembers, found themselves stranded in Gander with nowhere to go. This story tells of the generous and heroic efforts of the townspeople to open their homes to these strangers in distress. And no one knew for how long. Or the fact that all the planes had animals on board! And many internationals did not speak English or French Canadian. “Come from aways” are what Newfoundlanders call visitors. You can watch some clips of the production on the internet. The Tulsa Performing Arts Center will be hosting the touring production October 12-17 if you would like to see the musical for yourself. 

It is the story of people rising to a dramatic and uncertain situation. There are themes centered around fear and grief, neighborly love for strangers, with a kind of loaves and fishes quality about it all. At the end of the performance, during the standing ovation, a small group of young people in front of us clapped vigorously. One young lady exclaimed for all to hear, “I have been so proud to be a Canadian!”  It has been announced that 800 recently rescued Afghans are being sent to Tulsa to begin the long process of rebuilding their lives as strangers in a distant land. Temporary housing is needed for nearly all the people.  Will the people of Tulsa respond like Gander?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Welcome the “come from aways.” And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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