Dr. Daniel Matthews Discusses 9/11 and the Language of Abundance
“The language of this college is generosity,” Dr. Daniel Matthews told students at this morning's Convocation. “Someday after you leave here, 20 to 30 years from now, you’ll look back and say, ‘The best years of my life were at Florida Southern. I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, and those were the best years of my life.’”
LAKELAND -- The Rev. Dr. Daniel Matthews told the Florida Southern College community Wednesday that people need to learn a second language, the language of abundance.
The rector emeritus of New York’s Trinity Episcopal Church on Wall Street spoke at the second Convocation of the school year, discussing the culture’s obsession with having “more stuff” with the backdrop of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Trinity Church, which was literally across the street from Ground Zero, became a spiritual center for thousands of rescue workers, mourners, and people from around the world in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Dr. Matthews spoke vividly of watching the second airliner hit the World Trade Center, about 150 yards away from his office on the 25th floor. A woman in the office screamed “War!” and dove under a desk, while another man wondered aloud whether they were watching a movie being filmed. “It was that surreal,” he said.
He and his staff grabbed children from the parish preschool and took them into the basement, but they became trapped there as dust from the fallen World Trade Center began pouring through the air ducts. Eventually they escaped, unharmed.
Following the attacks, Dr. Matthews said he was taken aback to hear government leaders tell the nation, “Go shopping.”
“When you’re grieving, that rings hollow,” he said. “Shopping doesn’t soothe the soul.”
Instead, he said, people should focus on what they have and revel in the abundance of God’s creation and the beauty of art, music, and literature. He said students should be thankful that their professors are teaching them a second language.
“The language of this college is generosity,” Dr. Matthews told students. “Someday after you leave here, 20 to 30 years from now, you’ll look back and say, ‘The best years of my life were at Florida Southern. I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, and those were the best years of my life.’”