“Love is always stronger than hate. If we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be nearly as strong as the love is.” – Chris Singleton
In the wake of the devastation of June 17, 2015, the faith of the Emanuel 9, their families and survivors illuminated the way: it would be by the amazing grace of God.
The Emanuel Nine
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. As did DePayne Middleton-Doctor. And sometimes, love to sings in a heavenly alto soprano, the voice her four daughters keep in their hearts. Her life was a praise hymn.
She loved the “Word,” and loved words. A gifted and beloved librarian, Cynthia Hurd knew the power of words to transform lives. Books were sacred to her. So was family. Always caring, sharing, encouraging, helping, giving. She lived full of hope.
Susie Jackson gathered her big family around a table of love and fed them the bread of life. She was always cooking, always saying grace, a blessing across the generations. Everyone was welcome. Hers was an abundant, overflowing heart.
Ethel Lance made things sparkle. She sparkled. Jazzy, joyful, full of life, empty of regret. She even met Martin Luther King once who said I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. The same was true of Ethel Lance.
Reverend Pinckney was ordained into the ministry at 18 and became the youngest member of the South Carolina State Legislature at 23. He was leading Mother Emanuel into the future with education and achievements enough for several lifetimes. He loved his family infinitely. Clementa Pinckney lived on God’s time.
Beloved. That’s Tywanza Sanders. Son, grandson, best friend. Ty was a grad student, a barber, a thinker, a doer and a seeker who wrapped his arms around life like a hug. A beautiful young prince of a person, his smile matched his soul.
The prophet asked what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God? This was Daniel Simmons’ life. Holy man, family man, military man, highly educated man. Studying was his hobby. So was kindness.
Speech pathologist, teacher, track coach, doctoral student, minister, mother extraordinaire. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton ran circles around life. Beautiful inside and out, she was a true champion. God was her finish line.
A Licientiate Minister, she scattered seeds of faith wherever she went, as a teacher, counselor, minister, wife, mother, friend. Myra Thompson was a giver and helper. She grew up in the church and beautiful flowers grew in her yard. So did love.
let us no longer walk in your shoes.
you are a traveler of darkness, a walker of shadows,
cloaking yourself in a black cloth like the grim reaper
and arming your soul with the tools of a terrorist –
a misguided soldier who’s trying to start a war.
heaven was as close as your breath that night.
You came to Mother Emanuel to worship in the glow of God,
and speak the light that flows from love.
How beautiful of Him to hear your words
and lift you into the arms of Christ.
you walked toward heaven with focus,
even when your shoes were stained with the dirt of intolerance.
A black cloth lays silent at Clementa’s seat, resting under
a single rose. It was taken from our city’s soil,
where seeds of faith continue to grow.
I see heaven in your tears and feel the weight of sadness
in your voice. I’ve seen strangers hold hands
as the sun wraps us in unbearable heat,
I’ve watched children of contradiction come together
for the unity of the Holy City.
nine members of your family are now in heaven
and you have to confront the reality of racism,
the dusk of pain, the lightlessness of the dawn.
Because I would rather hang a black cloth on a flag pole
than give the Confederate flag another glimpse of the sun.