In reading the various “news” accounts of the yet another terrorist attack at “Mother Emmanuel” (Almost 200 years ago it was defiled and burned to the ground because of its reported connection to a planned slave revolt.), there has not been much talk about those who physically survived this assault. It has been reported that one was a five year old girl who was in attendance at the prayer meeting with her grandmother. Her grandmother reportedly covered her with her body and whispered to her to pretend that she was dead.
I can only imagine the pain of this grandmother as she covered this child’s body praying that she be spared. I can only imagine the strength of her prayers of intersession, knowing that only her body and a merciful God stood between the child beneath her and the ultimate of evil. There is probably not one of us who has brought a living being into this world, or cared for one, who cannot imagine the pain of feeling powerless to protect them. Our prayers for their safety always occupy a portion of who we are. Sometimes we articulate those prayers and sometimes we push them to the background of our mind because the pain of believing that they wouldn’t be safe in their daily journey is far too much to carry with as we move about our day.
And, I CANNOT imagine what it must have been like for this child lying beneath her grandmother. The incomprehensible horror of bearing witness. The sense of guilt, loss and fear as she listened and felt her grandmother’s life slip away... as she struggled to hold on to her own. No, I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE!
Just like I cannot imagine what it was like for those fearless souls who stood in the halls of “Mother Emmanuel” before these. Those who rebuilt it from the ashes left when it was torched by the hands of racism and slavery that still loom like a ghost stench in the very air that we breathe. They were fearless souls. Like those that bear their legacy and invited in a stranger, trusting his intentions. Without benefit of weapons other than their belief in goodness of humankind and the strength of an Almighty God. They let him into a sanctuary, which was not theirs to exclude him from. They let him into their hearts because that’s who they were.
“Mother Emmanuel” and all that she is and represents will continue to move forward in the march towards freedom and a better world for us all. She is fearless in the face of these many years of hate, racism and oppression. She will continue to guide us as she has done in the past. She will shelter children and adults as she did former slaves separated from their children, grandchildren, husbands and wives. We will stand with her as she continues to call out and confront the ghost stench of racism that strangles this nation so that none of us can truly breathe. We will stand with her as she calls it out from the hidden corners of our nation shrouded by an unhealthy and misguided allegiance to a legacy born of half truths and lies. We will She will call it out fearlessly until it falls away.