The 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the United States came on schedule and once again I did all I could to avoid revisiting those horrible moments.
I'm never big on anniversaries of cosmic events and certainly not this one. The memories for all of us are so painful.
But just as I thought I had gotten through the day, my wife picked up her daily devotional for Sept. 11 and thrust me right back into it.
The day's passage was about Father Mychal Judge, who was at the time a chaplain to the Fire Department of New York.
My wife and I had met Father Judge just a few months earlier at the wedding of a friend in Kiawah Island. As a close friend of the bride's family he was there to officiate the marriage.
Judge was a Franciscan priest and when we saw him he was wearing sandals and a brown vestment with a hood. He looked like a living statue of St. Francis of Assisi.
It turned out to be not a bad comparison, because Father Judge was a bit of a saint himself.
When the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower on Sept. 11, 2001, Father Judge followed rescue workers into the building to help and to administer last rites to victims.
As he knelt beside one dying victim, a piece of the building dropped on him, killing him instantly.
A photo of the body of Father Judge being carried out by rescue workers was one of hundreds of dramatic photos taken that awful day.
I told the story of Father Judge at the time and, now, suddenly, it was all coming back.
The writer of the devotional wrote about the fear Judge must have felt at the realization of what was happening.
But, he wrote, “what marked him as special that day was his ability to experience fear without becoming afraid -- to act not out of his fear but out of God's grace.''
Not to get too spiritual in this small column -- I am, after all, a godless commie pinko liberal, according to some -- let me share, from the devotional, the favorite prayer of Father Judge:
“Lord, take me where you want me to go.
“Let me meet who you want me to meet.
“Tell me what you want me to say.
“And keep me out of your way.''
Rest in peace, Father.
Contact Bob Bestler at firstname.lastname@example.org.