I love Charleston, South Carolina. I love the beautiful beaches, the rich history, the fabulous restaurants -- it has something for everyone. We usually come here at least twice a year, and by now we are familiar with the good parking places, the location of the candy store where we always stop for those yummy pralines, the route to the beach, the best place to get hot dogs, our favorite motel. We don't have to use the GPS every time we leave the motel now, and we don't have to read all the reviews to decide where to eat. We have done the carriage rides, the Civil History walking tour, the boat ride out to Fort Sumter, and the museum. It is a wonderful place to come with the family to relax and explore.
But last week the unthinkable happened in this lovely place -- the news is full of stories about the 9 people who were murdered inside their church during Bible study. It was so sad -- and disturbing -- and totally horrible -- and I thought about canceling the reservation we made to celebrate our anniversary in Charleston. I wondered if there would be riots or demonstrations like we had heard about in some other cities in recent years. So I watched the news carefully, and started hearing messages of forgiveness and those Christians showing the love of God even through heartbreak.
We arrived on Sunday evening, and as we started across the big Ravenel bridge, we saw blue lights and thought there must be an accident on the bridge. But as we drove further, we saw thousands of people walking the 2.7 miles across the bridge. Some were carrying signs and waving and singing -- we quickly "Googled it" and found that they had gathered to show support and unity with those who were grieving. It was an amazing sight.
My heart was stirred to see all those people-- maybe 20,000 according to some estimates -- joining together to show that love overcomes evil. And what the murderer meant for evil, God used for good. And even though we had not planned to be a part of this, we were touched and grateful to be on the bridge at that moment. What a great message to send to the haters! We are all in is together, and LOVE OVERCOMES EVIL!!
All through the city we saw these big banners of support.
All over town we saw stores donating to the AME church or to the families of the victims. We have seen such an outpouring of support! (And I did my part by eating one of these cupcakes.)