The past couple of weeks have been tough ones for me. The retirement wasn’t such a big deal because I knew it was coming, but a lot of stress occurred when I packed up myself, my son, my granddaughter and the family dog to meet my husband and daughter in North Carolina for the summer.
After an 11 hour drive, we made it and the stress hasn’t eased off since. My husband has been in the hospital twice (bronchitis and a throat infection) and the five of us plus the dog are on top of each other in the RV and cabin. There is absolutely no place to go to be alone and process thoughts for a blog post. I keep telling myself that it will ease off soon, but right now, I’m living the AA mantra of “one day at a time” to keep from going crazy or driving everyone else crazy.
One positive action I did was to get involved with a local church. I read about Crossnore Presbyterian Church last year during my visits and even contacted them during the year to see about summer activities. Coincidentally (or God’s perfect timing), the church's secretary once lived in Tallahassee and was an ESE teacher at the school my son attended. We have several friends in common and in present-day fashion, she and I became Facebook friends. When my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer, I asked her to add his name to the prayer list at the church. I’m not Presbyterian, but because of this connection, I felt like I was supposed to be at this particular church.
The people there are extremely nice and welcoming, and in a week, we have been to Saturday breakfast, Sunday church service, and Friday Bluegrass and Barbecue family dinner. The preacher said she was finally glad to meet me because the church family had traveled this cancer journey with me and my family. The members have readily taken me and my family into their fold.
Since Wednesday night’s tragedy in Charleston, SC, I, like many of you, have thought about why this happened and why, of all places, would someone do such a horrible act in a church? A church is a place of reverence, solitude, learning, fellowship, and most of all, acceptance of all people. Just like the people of Crossnore Presbyterian Church accepted and welcomed me, the people of the Emanuel AME Church welcomed Dylann Storm Roof. After all, a church is God's house, and believers are His servants who are supposed to welcome everyone in order to learn about God.
I’m heartbroken that this happened in Charleston to these nine people. These people lost their lives because they were in church on this Wednesday night studying God's word. They welcomed this particular young man into God's house and then were tragically shot dead by this young man. This event seems a repeat of Columbine in 1999 and Newtown in 2012 when innocent children and adults were shot and killed by other young men.
Many people have their own beliefs as to why these events happen – racial prejudice, anti-religion, anger at peers or the establishment. Stronger gun laws would help, but someone can easily get his hands on a gun through illegal paths.
Personally, I believe that evil presents itself in these people who perform these terrible acts. I mean true evil, the evil that takes hold of a person’s mind, telling him to destroy others and himself. Some people explain these events by saying the person committing this act has a mental illness or someone has taught him his warped beliefs. Maybe that’s how the evil presents itself in that person, but the greatest evil is there and is working against good and peace.
I hope that churches like Crossnore Presbyterian, Emanuel AME, and all others will continue to take a risk and open their doors to everyone to enjoy learning and fellowship. Continuing to do so is the only way to fight true evil.