Hurricane Hugo united the Charleston community. In the hours, days, weeks and months afterwards, it didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, black or white, man or woman, adult or child. We united as one to heal the city, which is part of our souls, and we united as one to heal every heart.

Of course, the pain we face today cannot compare. And it would be nothing short of a lie to believe that we — Charleston’s white community — are not partly to blame. We can point our fingers at ourselves for not standing against the gentrification we see every day. For allowing the flag of hate to fly overhead as a symbol of our state’s values.

But as in the days immediately following Hugo, we have been changed. Now we are forever united as one new Charleston, grieving the nine lost lives who have paid the ultimate price for our sins.

May God have mercy on us. May we forgive ourselves and our shortcomings as human beings. But may we also now find the strength of character and wisdom of mind to find solutions that draw us even closer to one another, and closer to God.

And may we follow the example of extraordinary mercy, love and forgiveness the victims’ families have given through grace not only to the person who caused them such pain, but also to each one of us.

Heather F. Lyman

Currier Street

Daniel Island