Let it Shine, Charleston. Let it Shine.

My kids learned “This little light of mine,” in preschool. They would sing it in chapel on Tuesday mornings. They’d come home singing it from the back seat, humming it past their bed time.

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Every time I’d hear them sing, every time they’d raise one finger up to show off their lights, I felt my heart swell a little. There’s power in acknowledging that light. And this simple song is one of such great strength.

They say, “I’m gonna let it shine!” And I say, “Yes! The world needs your light.”

Let it Shine, Charleston. Let it shine. | In The Next 30 DaysThe massacre at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church happened a week ago today. In the devastation, my Charleston got dark and still. We held our breaths while we cried. I was alone. My house was quiet. I called my mother and cried to her too.

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine.

The first spark was struck by the victim’s families. Those beautiful, heroic people. Their love and light is so deep, they forgave the shooter not 36 hours after their loved ones were taken from them. They relit Charleston’s light.

People started coming together, sharing their own lights. Black, white, it didn’t matter, we were just together. Strangers hugged in the streets. They held hands and they cried. They sang songs, prayed together. And that light grew brighter.

On the sidewalk in front of Emmanuel AME, Charlestonians carried cases of water for anyone paying respects. Flowers and ribbons piled up. Tears and hugs and love were shared. And that light grew brighter.

Sunday morning, the Holy City opened it’s church doors wide, and every church bell rang in honor of the victims. That’s the bells from 100 churches ringing out for love and peace.

And when close to 20,000 people stood together on the Ravenel Bridge and held hands in 9 minutes of silence, Charleston’s light was blinding.

In the darkest corners, in the spaces where racism had crept in, in the shadows of anger and stupidity, there is now light. Where there was hatred, there is love. Charleston is the shining example of unity and community for the world.

Charleston is proving over and over again that Love Wins.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Charleston is wonderfully made, and the world needs this city’s light. We’re proving that right now.

We are healing still, though. And I know we as a city, as a state, as a nation have a long way to go to repair the divide. But Charleston is on it’s way, and I hope you’re watching to see how it’s done.