Sunday afternoon was a time of reflection, healing and celebrating at Naperville's inaugural “9/11 Community Event: Remember, Release, Renew,” held at and sponsored by the One Naperville Project and the Naperville Interfaith Leadership Association (NILA).
Attendees began gathering in the lobby of Wentz Hall at 4 p.m. to take part in several hands-on art activities designed for the entire family, and to read and sign the Charter for Compassion, a worldwide effort in which individuals, groups and cities pledge their commitment to “treat all others as we wish to be treated.”
Later, representatives from numerous Naperville-area Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and other spiritual and philosophic traditions gathered to present readings, poetry, music and to meditate and reflect.
Christy Burich of Plainfield and a member of Unity in Naperville church, attended the event with her husband and step son.
"We came out here today because I love the idea of so many churches coming out together and sending out peace in remembrance of September 11, and dwelling on the more positive aspects of things," Burich said. "I believe we are all one, part of God and we should treat each other with respect, kindness and love. For my stepson, I wanted him to come here and encourage compassion and for him to not hold any fear or hatred in his heart."
Carolyn Lauing Finzer, a 64-year resident of Naperville attended the event, bringing with her a quilt banner she made in rememberance of 9/11 that will eventually be hung at Ground Zero.
"I was extremely emotional today because my husband is a retired United Airlines pilot and he was flying home from Beijing with a plane full of people when the attacks occurred," Finzer said. "After being told he could not land at any airports in the United States, he was finally granted permission to land his plane in Calgary, where he had to stay for four days.
"We visited Ground Zero about five months later and woven into the wire fences surrounding the site were thousands of notes, photos, flowers. It overwhelmend my emotional state and nervous system so much that I fell to my knees and sobbed on the ground, taking it all in."
Lynn Pries, Chaplain at , opened the ceremony by welcoming all those individuals, and their faiths, in attendance.
"This service was developed using our common religious teachings to deal with this great tragedy," Pries said. "We wanted to acknowledge that those who died included many people of different religious, ethnic and national groups. Today we seek to strengthen our unity...because we want to focus on the common religious teaching of compassion."
Highlights of the ceremony included a reading from the poem On That Day, written by Tom Codaro of , reflections on release from Buddhist Tak-Seng Lodro, and the reading of the Charter for Compassion by members of all the prticipating congregations.