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Lions Roar : May 2017
At Ground Zero Zen teacher BONNIE MYOTAI TREACE on a place where there are no answers. HOT OFF THE PRESS DURING THE WEEKS AFTER Sep- tember 11, 2001, I worked with families as they made memorial visits to Ground Zero. The trips began at the Family Assistance Center in Manhattan, where death certificates were issued and other support services arranged. The center was very big and very busy. From there we boarded a ferry to Ground Zero, the still-smoldering World Trade Center site. There were gunboats everywhere we looked in New York Harbor, and on the boat there was significant security. The wind blew brisk and the water incongru- ously glistened. On the way, the clergy and the mental health workers made what connections they could with the families, offering support or space as needed. When we arrived at the site, we walked up into the memorial area, and basically bore witness. The metaphor of the site visit was so bare it stripped words down to the sim- plest speech, the most primary matter. From the world of business at the dock, where everyone was involved in taking care of the paperwork and assembling the resources to survive, we made a raw journey down the river to the charnel grounds. Arriving, all business stood still. Conversation withered. It smelled very bad there. The build- ings that remained standing seemed normal until you looked up and saw how parts near the top or on a side had From Empty Branches: A Season of Zen Teach- ings, by Bonnie Myotai Treace, Sensei. Pub- lished by Millstone Press. been torn off. Their jagged edges seemed to be gesturing as if caught in mute pain, like a woman raped, walking away, trying to look ordinary but with her dress torn, bruises rising. The clergy’s work was to attend to the families, so I turned my attention from the site to them, and we spent fifteen or twenty minutes being there together, offer- ing flowers at the temporary memorial alcove. When it was time for them to PHOTOBYFLORIANFRANKE/ALAMYSTOCKPHOTO;CALLIGRAPHYBYTONYMATTHEWS LION’S ROAR | MAY 2017 73