It was late August and I had a trip coming up in about two weeks. The thought crossed my mind that I might like to have a cross to wear as a pendant on a necklace. I didn't give it much thought. A few days later the thought occurred to me again. I thought it might be nice to have protection. It crossed my mind that was an odd thought and then I forgot about it. I was supposed to leave on a Friday, out of Dulles. I had a busy weekend planned before leaving, lots of socializing and I was supposed to spend Sunday afternoon with Allen. But when the day came, I called him up and canceled on no notice. I didn't tell him exactly why because I didn't fully understand why, I just said I had too much to do before I left the country. But in point of fact this idea of buying a cross to wear for protection had become urgent. I *had* to go buy a cross Sunday afternoon. Had to. And now I was perplexed, because I grew up extremely Protestant and in My tradition, we do not wear crosses. That's in My mind essentially a Catholic thing to do and I'm emphatically not Catholic. As a kid we were taught the Catholics were going to hell becauae they worship idols; I was not Catholic. Nobody in my family were a cross, nobody I knew wore a cross, I had never considered wearing a cross, I had never wanted to wear a cross. I wasn't even interested in it as purely as a matter of jewelry. I certainly didn't believe it actually conferred any sort of protection, that just didn't fit into My belief system at all. If it was anything it was pretty jewelry, and even as jewelry it was not interesting to Me. And yet suddenly I felt I had to have one. I did not understand Myself. I canceled my date, the last date I was going to have with the boyfriend before leaving the country, which probably meant not seeing him for two weeks. I cancelled the date so that I couod go to the National Cathedral some distance away. I went to the National Cathedral, which I do not attend, so that I could buy a cross I did not believe in.
It was important to me that it come from a Church, and the Cathedral was the logical place to get it. No church I belong to sells crosses, and I absolutely did not want to buy it in a jewelry store. It had to be the Cathedral. I schlepped to the Cathedral and I spent a significant amount of time there in the gift shop looking at pretty much every cross they had.
I knew what I wanted, I wanted to elements of both the cross itself but also a circle, the masculine and feminine in balance. I may or may not have known that this is a Celtic cross, but it was important to me to balance those two elements. So I looked at all the crosses and in the end I wound up spending several hundred dollars, more money than I could afford, to buy a solid gold Celtic cross (fortunately the price of gold was pretty reasonable at that point). I picked it in part because it had been blessed at the Cathedral, and this feeling that I needed protection was getting stronger and stronger. At the same time, I continued to write the whole thing off as some sort of slightly nutty whim. Maybe all that travel was getting to Me.
I put the blessed, compulsively purchased for protection cross on, and I did not take it off not, not that day Sunday, nor the next day Monday, nor Monday night. My plan was to wear it through the upcoming work trip. And so it was that on Tuesday morning when I found myself in traffic in downtown DC, trapped as I listen to reports of car bombs all around me, of missing airplanes in the sky headed for the numerous monuments I was surrounded by, able to see the smoke of the Pentagon rising in the distance... as I sat in My trapped car hundreds of yard from the White House, watching people run out of the White House clearly having been told to evacuate... understanding instinctively there must be a plane missing, that it must be headed for Me... comforting Myself with the knowledge that dad says it is really hard to spot the White House when you fly down from the north, down across the bluff and over the Cathedral... as I comforted Myself with the idea the plane would probably overshoot the White House and hit the easily spotted Washington monument (probably still killing Me) or the easily spotted Capitol … As I sat in the middle of downtown Washington DC next to the White House on 9-11 unable to escape... I was for the first time in My life wearing a blessed cross.
And I was oddly calm.
On the one hand I was completely aware of the danger I was in, yet I wasn't panicked. I was in fact calmer and clearer and more relaxed than if I had been watching this as a movie on television. I calmly persisted and creeping along, I thought back to a class I had once taken, where we did an urban terrorism simulation. I thought about strategic infrastructure targets, multiple waves of attacks, targets of high symbolic value, and knew with high clarity what I needed to do. I made it to the office, parked the car, went into the office grab my laptop, walked straight back out without speaking to anyone, got straight back in the car, and drove away from downtown with its high symbolic value targets and its numerous infrastructure targets.
I foresaw that the federal government would close and that mayhem would ensue when everyone attempted to escape downtown in a big damn hurry, and I knew that if I were a terrorist that's when I would launch a second wave of attacks, maybe a plane was waiting to take out a people loaded bridge. So My goal was to get out of downtown before that wave could rise.
I drove up Massachusetts Avenue to the north along embassy row, I got to witness hundreds of embassy personnel who had just heard received the call. I got to watch them sprinting in business suits with briefcases, hundreds of them, sprinting across streets and medians, through flowerbeds and parks, doing whatever it took to make a beeline back to the safety of their embassy. I just kept going north.
I knew there was a bridge, and I figured it wasn't important enough for a terrorist to target, it was small it didn't photograph well, I figured that's how I would get back across the river. I had to get home before the flood of people behind Me caught up. And I was home within about an hour of leaving my office. I felt badly for telling no one what I knew was going on, but I felt it was a survival situation and I didn't have time. I'm not entirely proud of that. But even from this distance I marvel at My calmness being trapped in all that, trying to escape, feeling viscerally the very real dangers - later confirmed - swirling around me, and yet somehow not being afraid. I didn't realize until a little later, I didn't connect the dots between that knowledge of having been in danger and the odd sense a few days earlier of needing protection, I didn't connect those dots right away.
It seems to have been a one time thing. It's a beautiful piece of jewelry, and if I'm going to church for something special I might put it on as part of establishing a spiritual headspace. It is special to Me because of that experience, but it is just jewelry now. Still, I have never before and never since felt a strong sense of needing protection from the wearing of a cross. But if ever there were a time and a place for such a thing, it was on 9-11 as the passengers of Flight 93 caused it to crash in Schwenksville, PA rather than let it to continue to its target, where I was.
I don't know why I feel moved tonight to write this. A kinky homeowner blog with three followers is an improbable place to post the story, but it is the best spot I've got. I hope it does not mean that I am sensing great danger headed My way on this Memorial Day weekend.