One Love, One Skin.
June 25, 2015. Days ago, I stood upon the sacred ground of Mother Emanuel AME Church, the setting of amazing grace and unspeakable sorrow. In the preceding days, nine precious lives had been stolen from humanity. Three months have passed since my visit to Charleston, South Carolina, but I have not forgotten the church, nor the people, or the nine live’s that were lost.
Soon after arriving in Charleston, a city that is one of my favourite travel destinations in the United States, my husband and I made our way to the church. It was a hot suffering evening and being a girl who lives near the rocky mountains, I found the heat combined with a high humidity index, unbearably stifling. Yet I trudged onward, grateful for the sweat that suffused my white skin and the heart that beat ‘alive’ in my chest. It wasn’t long before I viewed a caravan trail of television crews, and soon after the initial sighting of a church.
I stepped tentatively toward the building, unsure if I had the right to stand on the street in the presence of indescribable sorrow. I beheld a majestic building, a steeple so tall and rich, I couldn’t fit the entire building in my camera viewfinder. But as I stood behind a metal barrier, observing a beautiful historic church, I first read the handwritten message: One Love, One Skin.
When I began my journey from the north to the south, I had not known that I would discover such a missive. I wanted to cry in the contemplation of that moment, but like the silent bystanders who stood amongst me, my emotions were frozen. Still, a human heart cannot stand in the wake of unbearable sadness and not embrace something greater than yourself. It’s human nature to question. Why? Why does it take a human devastation for humanity to come together, and stand together––as one love––as one skin––to reflect upon a grace that is greater and more powerful than any mere mortal could ever begin to understand. I thank the wise human soul who placed four simple words upon a piece of paper to remind those who are left behind that we are …
One Love, One Skin. And perhaps one day, with God’s amazing grace, one people, too.
A people, a village, a city, a country, a world, that will not be defined by the colour of our skin; nor our race, religion or creed, but a people who will tear down barriers to embrace humanity.
On this Sunday morning, I remember the courageous people of Charleston, South Carolina and thank them for their courage, generosity, and hospitality in the wake of such sorrow. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of her hands.