If asked then I’d have to be honest about myself. And, It’s true. I find myself getting frustrated. I find myself angry over nonsense. I’ve been known to curse at the television before. I’ve certainly been known to curse while I’m stuck in traffic or while some random car drives in front of me, to cut me off, only to go slower—and I swear this must be personal. I curse and complain, and on some occasions, I’ve been known to have entire arguments with people; meanwhile, I’m in a room, all by myself.
I’ve yelled at the sky a few times. As a matter of fact, I yelled at my leaf-blower and my lawnmower and my neighbor who was nowhere near me for most of the afternoon. If I’m being honest, I am as real as they come. I see myself as a person who is like anyone else.
I have my own challenges. I hate when I order a meal from the drive-thru; and after repeating my order three times to a person who works the register, and they still get my order wrong. I am of course a bit older now, which means I am supposed to be mature. However, I find myself giving in and allowing myself the immature tantrums, like, when I am on the bus and someone next to me is talking out loud on their cell phone. By the way, I’m guilty of this as well.
I’m not a fan of some of what I see. In fact, I watched a two-on-one fight on 42nd Street where the bystanders videoed the entire fight to put on their social media feeds. Meanwhile, a man was beaten in the head with a skateboard. His head was bleeding profusely, but hey, make sure it’s uploaded on Instagram, right? This is the world we live in and yes, this place is filled with injustice.
I admit to the scuffles of my past and the rage of my youth. Moreover, I admit that I was a different person, yet, there are times when I can feel the old symptoms creeping in. I have moments when I am not at my best. And I admit to this and make no excuses.
There are people that I no longer speak to. And I say this honestly and understand that yes, this is due to my resentments—so, it’s true, I open up and admit that I am human. I have defects of character, which is why I am here to tell you about this idea of mine.
I am interested in taking a road trip. I have heard about people who travel on the road to their personal Mecca. And so-to-speak, there is a spiritual journey that I am hoping to take someday. Maybe you’d like to meet me there.
The destination is not where anyone would think. I am not looking to head up a mountain where people leave crutches or items that identify their hardships. No. My trip is a bit different.
I’ve never been to Charleston, South Carolina. Have you? I’ve looked at the tourist attractions in Charleston. I’ve looked into different places to stay. But if I’m being honest, my reason for going to Charleston has nothing to do with the attractions or the food or even the bed and breakfasts. I’m sure the weather is nice. I’m sure the people are friendly and I’m more than sure there has to be a place where I can find some peach cobbler or apple pie. But still, my reason for this trip has more meaning than a good bowl of soup, some tasty peach cobbler or good old southern hospitality.
Instead, I’d like to spend some quiet time in the car and find my way to Charleston, South Carolina. I want to see the signs that tell me about the city limits. By now, I am sure you might be wondering about my destination — if it’s not for the food or for the attractions, then I suppose the question would be: then why go?
My goal is to find the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. I want to go here and sit for a while. Maybe I’ll go and sit in one of the back pews, so that I can take in the true spirit of forgiveness. I don’t know what the Church looks like now. And I don’t know what my entry would be like, but either way, I want to go.
I say this because on June 17, 2015, a mass shooter came in and killed nine people. The shooter was a 21 year-old man by the name of Dylann Roof. Ever hear of him? This was a man who joined a bible study and then before rising up to reveal his gun, Dylann Roof explained that black people were taking over the country.
I am not writing this to weigh in on any of the race battles. The shooter was a white supremacist and his hatred was clear. However, I am not here to talk about racism nor am I willing to give Dylann Roof a moment of attention. To be honest, the reason why I want to visit the Church is because in spite of the violence; in spite of the bloodshed, the congregation who lost nine people, including the Church’s senior Pastor, all chose to forgive the shooter. This person murdered and yet, they chose to forgive him.
I try not to hold grudges but I do admit to unresolved tensions. I have old scars and old wars that date back to relationships from my past. I am someone who experienced divorce. I understand what it feels like to be alienated as a parent. There are members of my family who I have not seen or spoken to for many years—and maybe this is for the best. Maybe this is no longer an unresolved tension but instead; this is the path of life, which means that our paths will cross, overlap, or run parallel, and sometimes, our paths are intended to go in separate ways. Our lives may coincide or, our paths may split, never to meet again. This is how life is. And I accept that.
I can say this for sure; no one has ever committed a crime against me like the crimes that were committed against those in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Yet, I have both damned and judged, accused and convicted people unfairly. This means I have a lot to learn—not about racism or the effects thereof and not about hatred. Besides, I’ve seen enough hatred in my life. I want to sit in the room where people learn to live, love, laugh and learn. I want to sit in the place where healing takes place. I want to learn about forgiveness and then, hopefully, I can show my appreciation. Maybe I can find someplace to take my new friends for a piece of peach cobbler or apple pie.
This would be my trip.
Care to join me?