After John Morabito survived the collapse of the South Tower on 9/11, he finds his brother, also a firefighter, amidst the chaos. Later that day, John proceeds to have a conversation with a construction worker about God that no one else sees or hears. Was his survival and subsequent prophetic encounter a miracle? The Miracle Detectives speak with many experts to find answers to these seemingly miraculous events.
Firefighter John Morabito, FDNY, Ladder Co. 10, was the only firefighter in the lobby of the South Tower to survive the collapse of the building. After his miraculous escape, he finds out that his brother, also a firefighter, is still missing. As John walks across the street to get a drink of water from a trickling fire hydrant, he looks up and sees his brother walking over for a drink as well. "We grab each other. We hug. We said, we'll stay down here to do whatever we can," John says.
That night, John walks home across the Brooklyn Bridge, and is joined by a construction worker who walks with him. The two discuss the days events, and the man says, "God has a bigger plan. He made you survive for a reason. You have to tell your story and you have to let everyone know about your guys and keep their memory alive."
Upon reaching the other side, Morabito is greeted by a group of police officers, and they tell him that John walked alone the whole time. Was this construction worker a guardian angel?
Indre decides that she needs to explore more about how people deal with grief. She visits Dr. Faith Ozbay, the associate medical director of the World Trade Center Mental Health Program.
Dr. Ozbay says spirituality is often used as a coping mechanism for people who have experienced traumatic events such at 9/11. "Some of my patients talked about having experienced a feeling of a presence in a religious context and that it wasn't clear to them what kind of presence this was. These are fairly common, but the communication with the other world is not something that I've heard. There's something very threatening about randomness and how random everything may be which implies a rather dangerous, chaotic world. Belief in a system, in a god, or angels may be more comforting as an explanation."
Randall visits the Union Theological Seminary to talk to Professor Serene Jones, a theologian with a focus on the afterlife, to try to get a theological framework that may help understand the 9/11 contact stories.
Professor Jones says that different forms of spiritual communication from God might be plausible. "That there would be forms of embrace that transcend that space between this world and the other makes perfect sense," she says.
Indre decides to research just how common this phenomenon of messages from beyond is amongst others who are impacted by 9/11. She finds a woman named Bonnie McEneany who lost her husband at the Trade Center, and wrote a book about people who have had strange afterlife experiences related to 9/11.
"Could the experiences she's written about really be miracles or are they just some sort of manifestation of trauma and grief?" Indre asks.
At the conclusion of this powerful investigation, Indre and Randall have reached their own conclusions.
Indre: There are one of two explanations for the appearance of the construction worker on the Brooklyn Bridge. It was either a hallucination coming from this traumatic experience or it was divine intervention. And although I can't completely rule out the idea that it's a hallucination, it is not up to the medical profession or science as a whole to try to make a judgment as to the reality of a person's experience.
Randall: The question I've asked myself this week has been, can an event that was born of terror also produce miracles? My answer is "yes." It can and it did. The first great miracle was in how people responded that day and I agree with John Morabito. God filled them up. And they did the right thing in overwhelming numbers. It was a miracle that John Morabito survived.
Indre: I don't see God when I think of the World Trade Center attacks. I see people suffering. When an event of such extraordinary magnitude happens, it completely turns on its head the things that we believe about the world like good things happen to good people. You know we have this really deep seated need to find meaning in the face of tragedy. We can't be sure that God was there. We don't have tangible proof and that's not the point.
Randall: I'm not telling you, you have to think this way. I'm just saying that I do and that I see that the people who embrace this point of view are the ones who are doing best with it and they're the ones who are bringing good out of it.
Indre: Randall, I agree with everything that you say except the qualification of "best." I think there are people who are coping equally well who don't share those beliefs.
Randall: You consider that a value judgment, so be it. You know? It is. But I'm not???
Indre: It's not one I share.
Randall: It's not a condemnation of them. It's not a feeling that they are lesser or worse. It's just that they haven't found their way.
Indre: For me it's about connecting with others. It's about altruistic behavior.
Randall: I think we agree that what we've seen this week has inspired us in the knowledge of the goodness and the greatness that's in human beings, the goodness and the greatness that's in this city. We do have common ground.