To the People of Charleston: A Letter of Thanks

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By Mark A. Leon

In a day and age where all thoughts, emotions and testimonials can be summed up into a text or a social update, it becomes ever so important to express my deep and warm gratitude to those individuals with the imagination, admiration and love to give of themselves each and every day.? To the people of of Charleston who welcome all, you are a blessing as strong as the power of all the churches, temples and sanctuaries.

To the amazing community of Charleston, through tolerance, patience and love, you have overcome adversity and trial to find hope in each sunrise.

As I reflect on the last two years, it has been filled with tragedy and struggle. Nights of unanswered questions, lives lost well before their time and obstructions in the path of life.

From tears heard across another continent, to new lives being welcomed into the world, to parents watching their children laid to rest, to disaster ripping families from their homes; I have spent many a long quiet evening in a meditative state trying to piece this puzzle of life together.

Each time, I draw the same conclusion: It is in the outstretched arms of those that have continuously put others ahead of themselves, who have greeted every challenge with passion and hope and been that shoulder to lean on that I need to personally thank. You are the foundation of this wall that provides me shelter from the storm and fuels my drive.

The students at the College of Charleston, Citadel, Charleston Southern and Trident that are shaping our future, media that celebrates community, the small business owners that have created a culture of family and to the Southern allure that welcomes millions annually, we are indebted.

From Mother Emanuel to Hurricane Matthew to the rescue of sea turtles, the selfless acts of kindness and unconditional sense of community speak values.

I thank you

  • I thank you for holding hands across the Cooper River Bridge in unity
  • I thank you for supporting local business
  • I thank you for remembering Mother Emanuel, Charleston Nine and the many others that gave their lives so we can keep our faith.
  • I thank you for giving your homes to keep us dry in times of flooding.
  • I thank you for embracing a Hurricane head on right strength and resilience
  • I thank you for allowing me to bear witness to your life changing events
  • To those that called, emailed or sent a picture or cute message at the most opportune time when I really needed it, I am eternally grateful
  • To the writers, poets, scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses and historians, thank you for preserving life, continue to preserve our history and building on this creative renaissance.

Sometimes, I lie out on the Folly Beach is the first sign of sunlight ordains the sky or an open field gazing upon the stars. Right at the moment it begins to sink in how small we are in the scheme of the universe and then fond memories rush through my head. ?Good refreshing memories that put a smile on my face. ?They are visual images of times I have spent with you; all of you. ?Each person that is important in my life has an equal piece of my heart and as you have and continue to shape who I am, I hope my actions and my words help you understand how you have given me all a man could ask for.

To our community, your love and devotion continues to give strength and energy. ?Thank you.

To the future, let us continue to unite, accept, love and grow.

I Thank The Lord – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

I thank the Lord for the moments I have had
From birth to death, I have been rewarded with the greatness of existence

A fortitude of love disguised as moments of simplicity

I heard the music awaken my senses as a newborn without logic; without reason; without understanding
I found a home in the arms of a stranger, soon to become mom

I thanked the Lord who opened my eyes to awareness and took my hand in a gesture of acceptance
I met wonderful things along the way

Pierced to accept my own mortality
Gifted by these words funneled from my soul to this paper
From the ruins to the skyscrapers, my awe is in the rising sun

A daily message of the charitable contribution of existence
Turn around

Thank those before; be humbled by those that follow

I want to sing a song to this beating heart; loud and spirited
Alone I rejoice
Never to be isolated

Racing to the bottom of a valley of broken dreams, I stop
This is only a beginning
Each awakening, my eyes see once again and feel the energy of a rebirth plunge through the porous skin and impregnate my conscience with vitality and fervor

I thank the Lord
It is in this ritual of salvation I find nirvana
Deep breath and exhale