James Faust recounts the moving story of retired army Rick Rescorla, who on Sept. 11th, 2001 assisted in evacuating 3,700 employees from the World Trade Center. Using his bullhorn, he moved up the floors, working through a bottleneck on the 44th and going as high as the 72nd, helping to evacuate the people from each floor. One friend who saw Rick reassuring people in the 10th-floor stairwell told him, "Rick, you’ve got to get out, too." "As soon as I make sure everyone else is out," he replied.
His wife had watched the United Airlines jet go through his tower. After a while, her phone rang. It was Rick.
"I don’t want you to cry," he said. "I have to evacuate my people now."
She kept sobbing.
"If something happens to me, I want you to know that you made my life."
I’ve always been fascinated by this story- not only by the heroism of this man, but by his tender, final expression of unbridled love and gratitude for his wife.
What fascinates me is that it might have been only then, with all other considerations, disappointments and fears now swept away, that he became fully in touch with his love. It was perhaps in that final moment that Rick knew, finally, the indescribable depth of feelings he had held inside.
I think to some degree we all hold it inside.
There is that amazing moment at the end of the movie “The Diary of Anne Frank” that gives us this same sudden and glorious moment, springing forth from the fear that held it captive.
Throughout the movie Anne engages in flirtatious and playful bantering with a young man, also in hiding at the same residence. Their feelings are growing but their communication is guarded.
As the Nazis, who have finally discovered her family’s hiding place begin to break down the door, Anne and the young man, move instantly into each other’s arms to embrace and to kiss. It is an explosion of the most tender and beautiful feelings possible on earth.
Perhaps Rick, perhaps Anne, perhaps you and I cannot know all that we truly feel until it is too late.
I hope not.
What holds us from this hidden ocean inside of us?
Our fear of disappointment- our abiding fear of losing something so precious. But this is what’s so crazy about it all. If we do not venture into the possibility of love- if we do not allow our souls to drift magically into our attachment to another, then we have lost already.
What a paradox. On one hand I want to fully love. I do not want my fear of loss or disappointment to protect me from all I could feel. On the other hand I would rather be safe than in love.
I believe the solution requires a quantum leap. Here is the leap: Is it possible to lose love- to lose what is this infinite and this glorious?
Don’t answer with your mind. Just let the question sit inside of you for a moment.
It is not possible. I’m not sure how. I just know this is true.
If I love you, I love you forever. It is as if I’ve always loved you. How can it be any other way? Relationships may change, but that which is beautiful and glorious in our experience of each other cannot change. In fact, I would go so far as to say that our eternal spirits are in a sense, made of love- that same love that we seek and are yet so afraid of.
Years ago, (1979) I wrote a song called “”What If I loved You?”
At the time I wrote it, I was working graveyard at an all night gas station. It was about 3 in the morning. I sat in my glass booth, feeling a little lost and alone. I played an A chord on my guitar, then an F minor, and the words just came -“What if I loved you? Isn't that O.K.- to feel this way again?” I began to weep (it’s a good thing I didn’t have any customers at the moment). This wasn’t just an appeal to the young woman I’d been dating. It was as if I was asking permission from myself, to love- and the more I asked- the more I wrote- the more the tears came. Because the answer was “yes!”
Yes, I will feel it all. Yes, I know I may end up feeling hurt, but yes, no matter how it goes, I will end up feeling fully alive. Is it worth the risk? I think so.