I’m writing to congratulate and thank Dianne Vincent and Laura De La Maza of Hearts Mend Hearts for their coordination of the gorgeous community mandala at the Alliance for the Arts Expo at College of Charleston on Sept. 20. I’m grateful for their vision, commitment, dedication and the incredible amount of time that they’ve put in to serving their community.

A mandala is a symbol used in all religions and all cultures. It means “healing circle” or “sacred circle.” This one used natural materials like flowers, greens, pinecones and shells that were gathered and donated by individuals or local businesses.

Candles, photographs and fresh flowers commemorated the nine lives lost at Mother Emanuel AME Church, as well as the three survivors.

In the closing ceremony of the Arts Expo, everyone was invited to gather around the community mandala, hold hands and listen to the beautiful voices and inspiring songs from members of One Accord and a soloist from the Mother Emanuel AME Church. It was a deeply moving and healing experience.

I’ve lived in Charleston for only a couple of weeks but have felt welcomed and embraced in so many ways. I felt humbled, honored and proud to have been part of the community mandala experience. The love and support of Charlestonians for one another is a profound and miraculous thing to witness, and I’m grateful for the warmth that has spread to envelop me as well. I encourage the public to come experience the free art therapy being offered at the main Charleston County Library. Please go to the CCPL website for the schedule.

Kathryn Kaknes

Franklin Street

Charleston