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This is a tough week for America as we mourn the 2,996 lives lost on 9/11/2001, a day that will also go down in infamy. I read several accounts on social media this week of people recalling exactly where they were when they heard the news that a plane had struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The time was 8:46 a.m. EDT and the way we lived was forever changed. As for me, I was an hour behind living in North Aurora, IL. preparing to head out and go into downtown Chicago for a trade show. That trip was replaced by endless hours glued to the TV set wondering how can people be so damn mean.

So now you know where I was on 9/11/2001 and now I want to know where were you on 9/16/2001? 9/11 was a Tuesday thus making 9/16 a Sunday. So where were you? I can’t tell you everything about that day but I do know I went to church that day and it was packed. I was sort of a regular and you can thank my Catholic guilt for that, but I married a Lutheran and women always win so we attended a Lutheran church in Batavia, Illinois. On Sunday 9/16 that little church was asses to elbows. Pardon my french, but it was and I remember feeling a little indignant that I couldn’t sit in my normal spot, in the back, near the door. You know how some of us church folk can get! We go to church to get enlightened by the good word and then get pissed that someone is in our pew! I looked hard at the folks sitting in my spot and their faces told me that they were hurting just like me, so to the balcony, I went and I found a piece of hardwood to sit on and I made do. I bowed my head and then asked God how could people be so damn mean—the terrorists—not the people sitting in my spot. I’m bad but not THAT bad!

Fast forward to today and I can almost sit anywhere I want when I go to church. Where did everyone go? Sidebar—I am not writing this to show you all how good I am and you suck because I chose to give about 90 minutes to God in formal worship every week. I go to church because I suck worse than you in this game of life and there will be no judging. Plenty of people way better than me don’t go to church at all, and this is just about everyone BTW. I go because I am broken, hurting, and a worse sinner than the person reading this line right now. That would be you! I’m just wondering where everyone went—that’s all and why is America becoming more secular…just wondering.

Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, I bet they all were packed on 9/16/2001. (9/15/01 for those who recognize Saturday as the sabbath) For me that will always be the Sunday we all asked why? If you are still asking why (me!) I would suggest finding a place to worship and start this weekend. Not sure you will find all the answers you are looking for, but you may live longer. Say what? Yes, live longer. In an article published in the June 2016 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, four Harvard University researchers analyzed data collected from 75,534 women over 16 years, between 1996 and 2012. They found that those who attended more than one religious service each week had a 33 percent lower risk of premature death. Good news for dudes like me is that you don’t need a perfect attendance card to reap a benefit! Twice-weekly attendance corresponded to a 26 percent lower risk, and less than once a week meant 13 percent lower risk. I’m afraid my risk reduction is closer to 13% than it is to 33 percent, but I will take it and I am hoping this benefit covers men too—although we were not studied. Live long and prosper. Just don’t sit in my seat this Sunday because I will judge… then ask for forgiveness.