Today I spoke with Abigail*, a woman from South Carolina, a sweet spirited woman, whose voice was full of richness and wisdom. Our conversation ranged from her current needs to other things and I found myself feeling knit closer to her by the time our conversation ended.
I have only seen South Carolina from a car window, so I asked about her home state. She said she lived in Charleston County and that it had a lot of history there, some painful, some beautiful. Her voice was saddened, almost weighed down, when she shared that the slave market was still there. She also mentioned how the Confederate Flag had been taken down, and that it was a relief and it was needed. She spoke from a perspective I hadn’t heard or read in any news feed. It was the voice of someone who had experienced the history, the connection, and the relationship to the symbolism found in the bars and stars. For her, the flag represented a sad history and it was best to let go and allow the pain to finally heal.
Abigail then mentioned another event from headlines, the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. It was not just a headline to her, it was personal, her family lost two close friends in this event. One of them, was Abigail’s college roommate. Abigail then posed the question, “When will we stop hating each other and hurting each other? We should be passed all of the this by now. When will it stop?”
There was a deep, resonating passionate plea in her voice. I agreed with her plea and stated how it mattered for future generations as well. We were united that grace and mercy were needed, not hate.
I shared how I was taught to never look at skin color, but as Dr. King shared in his I Have a Dream speech, I was taught to look at the “content of a person’s character” and it was the way I was bringing up my sons.
As Abigail and I closed our conversation, she shared that she knew in her spirit when we started speaking that I would be able to help her and she was so glad she spoke with me. I was touched. We were hundreds of miles away and yet, we were kindred spirits. We were each blessed by the connection.
Thinking back to the speech by Dr. King I felt this was one of those moments he described. It wasn’t a northerner talking with a southerner or a white person talking with a black person– the conversation was between two different people, yes, but we were still the same. What was within each of us was what mattered most. If I were to describe the content of Abigail’s character it would be rich, deep, and meaningful indeed. May we all learn to see beyond the cover of the person to the content within.
*not her real name