Monday, September 10, 2012
God Truly Does Bless America
By Beverly Caruso
Special to ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- I shared many of the emotions most Americans had on the 11th of September. But I can't think of that tragedy without thinking of the couple of weeks that followed. I was scheduled to teach a Writers' Seminar for a group of professional women in Athens. They were planning to launch a magazine geared toward the women of Greece. My trip was to begin on September 20th.
God had put a specific message in my heart for the women I would be teaching, so I was confident I would be going.
After three days of empty skies, airlines were released to fly again. On the 20th I pinned a tiny American flag to my blouse. I was leaving my fellow Americans, but I would continue to identify with their grief.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) had changed. No private vehicles were allowed inside the airport. Passengers were dropped off at a nearby parking lot and bused to the terminals—eerily quiet with few passengers. With an amused peace I observed that everyone seemed to be eyeing everyone else. I had a message to deliver. I knew I was going to reach Athens safely.
My American hostess agreed the tiny flag I wore each day might make some Greeks uncomfortable. Yet the women I taught each day were gracious in their expressions of sympathy for what my nation had endured. I found myself frequently reaching to caress the tiny flag and send up a silent prayer for my fellow Americans.
One afternoon there was an unsettling commotion at the subway entrance. A sign made it clear: the entrance was closed for an anti-American rally. My hand instantly reached for my flag - not to caress it. To cover it. I felt fear - a fear I had never known before. This crowd hated me and my country.
Quickly my hosts and I turned away and headed for another subway entrance a quarter mile away. The people we passed were intense, angry. Afraid they would know I'm an American by my clothes and gait, I avoided their eyes. Deftly I pulled the pin from the flag and put them both in my pocket.
I felt like a traitor to my country!
I knew this crowd had the potential to turn on me. Together my hosts and I - three Americans - headed back to their suburban home.
The rest of my time in Greece was memorable. I experienced no more fear. But I kept the tiny flag in my pocket where I could caress it secretly.
My trip home was totally different from before. I had delivered the Lord’s message to the group of Christian professional women. I didn't have that confident assurance that I would reach home safely. The security measures of two weeks earlier were minimal compared to now for coming into the United States. This only added to my awareness that the peace I had enjoyed while traveling before was by God's grace. Now I had to exercise faith to keep peace in my heart.
Before each flight, from Athens to Amsterdam, from Amsterdam to the East Coast, and onward to LAX, our documents were checked three times. Our luggage was searched and we were carefully questioned. My silent prayers were a continuous stream of petitions and praise.
Apprehension and suspicion were definitely my companions the whole way home. Yet I had the comfort of knowing that if I didn't reach my earthly home, I would reach my home in Heaven.
This week as I place our large American flag on our front porch I'll be thanking God for the freedom to fly my country’s flag openly, without fear, and without shame. God truly does bless America.
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.