I’m not sure if there is anything I can say that hasn’t been said by more eloquent, able writers.
Events like this challenge us, because almost everyone wants to try to make some sense out of what can never make sense. Mindless, evil monstrosity that originated in a troubled young man’s mind. The result–nine lives snuffed out, and countless others permanently affected.
This issue does more than deeply touch Black America. It is far more than that. These 9 victims are not just Black America’s dead…they are the world’s dead. All sensible-minded, reasonable, just human beings’ dead. We don’t mourn ‘some other people’s’ dead. With this tragedy, we mourn our OWN.
The victims of the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed their perpetrator into their bible study. He rewarded them with racial epithets and gunfire.
Dyllan Roof silenced their human voices, but he did not silence their spirits. This spirit rang out when their families publically forgave him during open court. The spirit was especially strong when the church opened its doors to anyone wanting to worship earlier today.
I could make this a blog about gun control–many have. I could make it about the very real truths that are obvious about hate in the United States. I could talk about the myth that there is anything near equality for Blacks, Hispanics or other minorities in this country. I think I won’t do that–rather, I’d like to talk about love.
The word ‘love’ has fallen on rough times in the last fifty or so years. It has become a cheap way to describe liking anything, right down to a McDonald’s double cheeseburger. While I admit those burgers are quite good, I’m not sure saying I ‘love’ them is the appropriate term to describe my enjoyment of them. But I use that term. A lot of us do.
We love UK basketball, Keeneland, and certainly American Pharoah. We love a well functioning car, our favorite pair of comfortable jeans, and a great movie we just saw.
Or do we?
We have watered down the word, but in watching the families of the Charleston 9 in how they confronted the sin of Dyllan Roof, we are reminded what love really means.
Love is taking a deep breath and not saying something that really is just an exposure of our sin natures just because we are angry or have been hurt, unaware.
Love is really living out wedding vows, and not stepping out on partners just because the infatuation or spark has died out.
Love is sharing the extra stuff we really don’t need with someone who would see such an extra as a treasure.
Love is sitting by a sick friend’s bedside, comforting them with our presence maybe more so than our words.
And love is…..saying “I forgive you” to someone like Dyllan Roof, who in his hate-filled mind, might not see himself in need of forgiveness. However, we pray that someday he will, and be glad of the magnanimous souls that offered said pardon.
Even if Roof never repents, never knows his need for grace or mercy (something he could not offer his victims), love was spoken that day in the courtroom.
Love, mercy, compassion–maybe these were things that Roof did not often experience in his young life–perhaps why he did not have them to give. However, the families of the Charleston 9 gave him a remarkable gift when they did not let his hate become their hate.
I tremble to guess what the fruit of that love will bring from the blood of martyred saints.