Several hours before the shooting of nine people at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church, my husband and I were driving out of Charleston. Literally, just hours before the massacre we were in historic Charleston where it happened.
Our day there was peaceful.
The day following was anything but.
We’ve come to love Charleston over the past couple of summers. It’s not far from my parents house and they’ve graciously gifted us with a night away by watching our kids when we come to visit. It’s a city with a rich and troubled history. It’s like going back in time. I love it for that, but it’s also haunting. It takes me back to a time when things were simple, slower, and fancier. To a time when things were complicated, harder, tenuous, and divided.
Now I think most vacationers come to Charleston to eat. We go we there to relax. The amazing southern cuisine and wine does help with that. This trip it took me awhile to come down off of my real life.
Instead of a carriage tour or renting bikes we opted for a less touristy experience and decided to take a sailboat out on the harbour for a couple of hours. The heat drove us to the water. Out there I finally felt my body and mind begin to slow down and relax.
The next morning we walked out to the pier and sat on the deck swings for over an hour just talking and again, enjoying the rhythm of the water and the beautiful harbor view.
Peaceful. Restful. Beautiful. Charming.
Instead of basking in the afterglow of our time away I’ve had lots of thoughts swirling around my head about the shooting. Somehow spending a night away in the same city where a man was plotting his murderous hate crime at the very same time we were vacationing is unnerving.
Two weeks later I am still speechless.
A friend posted this on Facebook and I believe it cuts straight to the heart of the tragedy on many levels:
“Every man on earth is sick with the fever of sin, with the blindness of sin and is overcome with its fury. As sins consist mostly of malice and pride, it is necessary to treat everyone who suffers from the malady of sin with kindness and love. This is an important truth, which we often forget. Very often we act in the opposite manner: we add malice to malice by our anger, we oppose pride with pride. Thus, evil grows within us and does not decrease; it is not cured – rather it spreads.”
— St. John of Kronstadt
May we remember kindness and love in the face of malice and pride in the same way the family members of those nine martyred showed us in the week following.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
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