By definition, peace is described as freedom from disturbance or the end of war and violence. It’s an abstract word that’s only tangible to the soul.
In times of trouble, anger or sorrow, peace feels as if though it were light years away. One tries to pull it back, but the mental and emotional pain creates a gap. The only passage to peace is a long bridge built by Father Time, and there’s no telling how long one will have to tread on its path.
Take the Emanuel 9 for example. Clementa Pinckney, Depayne Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson were gunned down in a church—a place of worship and safety desecrated by the hateful actions of one man, Dylann Roof. The peace of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was stolen within a few hours by murder.
Such an atrocity left the country stunned wondering why. Why choose a church out of all places? Churches, no matter the denomination or religious branch, embody peace and acceptance that many search for during those tough times in life. The ripples of the massacre reopened old wounds that are in desperate need of repair in the United States.
But a miraculous sign of grace emerged from the families of the nine victims killed at Emanuel AME Church. They forgave the gunman as he stood, stoic, in a striped jumpsuit preparing for arraignment. As they shed tears for their loved ones, they forgave him trying desperately to find peace in the midst of loss.
It’s been nearly a year since the shooting occurred, and the families have continued to move forward with their lives.
Jennifer Pinckney, wife of Senator and pastor Clementa “Clem” Pinckney, is an excellent example of peace in times of great sorrow. Her husband’s legacy touched the people of Emanuel AME Church as well as others across the United States.
On May 9, 2016, the Wesley Theological Seminary celebrated his life. Jennifer spoke saying: “Clementa, you did it. You accomplished a goal that many people dream of. And even though you’re not here to walk with your fellow classmates physically, I know that you’re here with us spiritually.”
Chris Singleton, son of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, lost his mother in the shooting. Chris has gone on to Charleston Southern University enlisting as a student and an Outfielder for the university’s baseball team. Despite his loss, Chris has continued to stay motivated and pursues his goals in life to become the best he can possibly be, a sign that he’s found peace or on the road towards that destination.
Regaining peace in a difficult time is as hard as lifting a boat anchor. When word was spread about their grace, peace summoned the hearts of those who listened and that anchor was lifted, yet the stamp of pain still remained.
With time and grace, a person can find peace again even if its miles away. Like the families of the victims: Let the tears flow, voice anger without revenge, and let grace guide the heart back to the tranquil waves of peace.
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- a the word changes contributor