Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Stand With You - An Open Letter of Support to Clergy

I am an Atheist who just so happens to be Black and I stand with you in solidarity. It was late in the evening when I first got the news that nine people had been senselessly murdered in a place where they should be able to be and feel safe, a church. This was my initial reaction to the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC:

"No one deserves to be shot in their place of worship, no one deserves to die where they should feel safe. Standing in solidarity with the Christian community and the community at large in South Carolina. I feel sick right now....."

This morning:

"Time of awakening 9:54am and i notice the what looks like dried up water marks on the eyeglasses that I fell asleep in. You see I stayed up until 3am with moments of tears falling and then I finally fell asleep and apparently my heart was broken there too, because my eyes are puffy from crying in my sleep. You see, as a Black man regardless of how I feel about Religion, 9 parts of me died last night in a Church over thousand miles away. Hate can be so powerful and consuming, but I will not let hate consume me. May the victims rest in power....."

This tragedy has deeply affected me in ways that I cannot measure, so I can only imagine what you are going through. Right now, across the country many of you are having trouble even making the motion to walk out of your doors. You may be hesitant to leave because of the possible raw feeling that leaves you feeling exposed. Yet, you may very well fear coming off as seeming too weak or flaky to your colleagues and those who look to you for guidance. Although I am a Non Believer, I still look to you for leadership out of respect that your heart is in the right place. This means that I and we stand behind you and I ask that you be strong and lead. I know it is hard right now but I, your congregations and the nation stand with you. The majority of you represent the best of leadership and mentorship, you teach love and humility, you empower and educate the masses.

I say all of this to say that it is ok, it is ok to feel afraid and hurt. This will allow you to reach the hearts of those who need you. Now go and do what you were called to do and be calm in the fact that you are healing others as you heal yourselves.

XOXO - Ashton P. Woods

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