FACING FEARS IN THE MIDST OF PEACE IN CHARLESTON

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
— Frank Herbert
 

How can one be at peace and fearful at the same time? It’s an interesting dynamic of feelings some would argue is strange but somehow for me it was calming and exhilarating. Over the weekend I visited Charleston, South Carolina for the first time—a place which is extremely rich in history both good and bad. Prior to visiting Magnolia Plantation where these photos were taken, I visited Emanuel AME Church in the city where recently 9 innocent souls were murdered for the color of their skin…the same color as mine.  

My trip to Charleston was planned before the massacre at Emanuel AME Church. Naturally this event was in the back of my mind and triggered other thoughts like, “What if this happens again while I’m there?” or “What if there are other people like that guy who treats my friends and me poorly or even worse?”. I prayed on it and decided, as I always try to decide, that I can’t live my life in fear of the “what if’s” and that if something bad were to happen, it would be okay. I didn’t think it was fair to myself, my friends, the good people in Charleston and especially the victims of Emanuel AME, who obviously loved their church and this city, to cast this place into a dark shadow of shame. I did not want to let fear or the acts of a terrorist deter me from what otherwise seemed to be a wonderful place with beautiful people.

As a Black female living on a plantation for a weekend it behooved me to acknowledge all aspects of the history engrained in the land. Walking the grounds I thought about where I am now, how I live my life and the stark contrast to what it would have been like if I were born at a different time, sooner, during slavery. I couldn’t image what it was like and how devastatingly painful it would have been. Traumatic even. Mix these thoughts with recent events and a few glares of disgust from a couple at breakfast that my friend and I dared to be on the same property as them and you’d think I’d be ready to leave. But from these thoughts, although sadness and frustration did ensue, was more a feeling of peace, humility and awe. I felt sad for the couple who refused to return a “Good Morning” or smile back when I sat down at breakfast but their ignorance was overshadowed by the other wonderful families, staff and relaxing sounds and beauty of nature I encountered. The property was absolutely gorgeous and everyone else, especially our waitress each morning Ms. Orcelia, was so kind and had calming energies. There was no other choice but to focus on the positive and although fear was in the back of my mind, I was overwhelmed with calmness and peace that God’s creations, people and nature, can be so beautiful and kind. This doesn’t negate the bad things that have and are yet to happen but the sensation of tranquility and power of God’s love and masterpieces were too huge to ignore.

Sunday morning, my last day in Charleston, I visited Magnolia Plantation with my friends. Topping off an already amazing weekend we explored the gardens and woods of this magical place from the river to the swamps. It reminded me of The Secret Garden, one of my favorite childhood movies, that focuses on the beauty that grows from overcoming life’s obstacles. I could see why so many people choose to get engaged and married here—there was such a romantic and adventurous feeling in the air and the land. The huge beautiful trees covered in Spanish moss were begging for hammocks and hugs. I reminisced about climbing trees as a child, free from fear of falling, and for a second was tempted to climb. My adult mind convinced me that it wasn’t safe and since we were on a historic site it would be frowned upon. As we started making our way to the end of the garden we passed a tree with sweeping branches hanging over the Ashley River. It looked as if it was made for lollygagging but I kept going. I could tell my friend had the same thoughts and I secretly was hoping he would stop. He did.

He, like I wanted to, climbed the tree and had me take his photo to capture this beaut of scene. Once he finished my friends said, “Your turn!”. I hesitated and my heart began to race! I wanted to but what if I fall in?! What if I hurt myself?! Heart racing, I got up the nerve to do it. Mind you the Ashley River has alligators, a few of which I saw on a morning run over the weekend, so climbing a tree over the waters wasn’t the most comforting of tasks. I also haven’t climbed a tree like this in YEARS, let alone barefoot in a dress. I figured if he could do it, so could I and I started thinking about the weekend as a whole and how I and others have to face their fears every day. Once again I didn’t want fear to be a mind killer (s/o to the D9) and refused to let it stand in my way. I climbed the tree, flashing a few people I’m sure as the wind blew my dress, and although I was fearful I was also at peace. I was proud of myself for moving outside of my comfort zone if only for a second and the result was amazing. Not only did my friend capture this beautiful moment in a photo but others walking the path were inspired to do the same. As we finished at least three groups of people climbed the tree after us, taking photos and enjoying the moment. Most importantly I was so grateful to have this moment, this day, this weekend and to have shared it with people whom I felt shared my sentiments without even saying a word.

I encourage you to face your fears head on everyday –I promise you it’s worth it!

What kind of fears have you faced lately? Comment and share below!