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.

Letter to the Sea (Letter to Earth for Love, Hope and Peace) – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

Out to sea we will meet
Distant strangers together under a starry sky

In our differences, we see the world through a spectrum of colors
Different languages, looks, beliefs, morals and relationships; yet one unified bond
The pursuit of meaning and love

Each moment an explosion of millions of actions pulsating in a thunderstorm of emotion causing a chain reaction so raw with intensity we can only respect its being

Each one of us a gift
Each moment a mother touches her newborn for the first time, a legacy
Babies first steps, a dream becomes reality
A first kiss, fear is shed and enlightenment found
A vow of love, the ultimate promise
A reflection of life, the soundtrack of the harmonies of our days

Close your eyes to hate
Shed away the fear
Find comfort in the love that surrounds
Have faith in the hands that created you
Take shelter in the relationships that protect

Let this message be a guide to your continued journey
Look back on your footprints in the sand; soon to be washed away but forever secured safely in your lock box of life’s precious times

Each step a new beginning toward your destiny
One filled with conviction

Make these words a pledge to find inner peace and live with passion
Leap in the air and let gravity take hold
It is in this moment, new and fresh, you will become wonderful

 

A Silent Prayer – Original Poem (Response to White Nationalist Debate)

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By Mark A. Leon

What do I have to do to make you love me?
What do I have to do to make you care?

Every street corner a reminder
Every ruin of a home lost in the countryside, a tear of sadness

Statues and tombstones are but symbols of the warriors of a land divided
Freedom, slavery, black and white
Moral injustice, capitalism and growth

Naked footsteps in the cotton field
A woman’s body nothing more than a machine for more labor
Cries of silence buried in the wind
The blood of a thousand souls melting in the heat

A Southern way, gone, but not yet forgotten
Powerless, the fight continues
Armed with cameras and words, hatred has the center stage

The cinema now showing a film of succession and ignorance
Bleeding from the left, gauging from the right

If we tear down the symbol, will the hate be gone?
We will find unity in a country where the wounds never fully healed?

Are we victims of color?
Patriots and mercenaries

The battlefield is dry, but the war has only begun

On these knees, I say a prayer
To the living, the dead and the unborn

Find peace in the soul
Equality in the heart
Serenity in unity

Let us be one
Let us stand strong

The light will shine once again for all to share

 

Tent City of Charleston Initiative – Helping the City Homeless…Year Round

helpingThe Tent City of Charleston Initiative is a group of civil minded citizens whose hearts stretch far beyond the borders of the holy city.? Their generosity and hope of a better tomorrow are a guiding light for us to follow.

Surrounded by all the wonderful media, boutique hotels, five star restaurants, booming economy and educational foundation lies a small population of homeless that live in small tent cities in Charleston.? Most of us have witnessed these mobile residents and have looked beyond them.

There is a group who has dedicated themselves to being guardian angels and banding together to give them the basic needs to sustain themselves and their families.

Each week, a wish list and a recurring list of basic needs are released to the public.? There is no obligation or fan fare, just community partnership and generosity.? Five locations have offered their businesses as drop off points.

If items are for a specific person, the donor just has to leave a note with the name of the person who will receive the items.

Drop Off Sites

Mount Pleasant

Habitat for Humanity – 469 C Long Point Rd

Lowcountry Consignments off of Hwy 41 (1179 Gregorie Ferry Road)

The Shelter Kitchen and Bar – 202 Coleman Boulevard

Pleasant Paws Day Spa – Belle Station Boulevard

North Charleston

Mjm Salon Company – 8410 Rivers Ave Suite I

This weeks wish list includes:

Tent City of Charleston Initiative Facebook Group

You may not know John, Christopher, Noah, Dana, David, Jeffrey or Peter, but like you and I, they wake each day and breathe the same air.? They unfortunately, do not have a place to call home or the financial luxuries so many of us are accustomed to.? Without jeopardizing their pride, this initiative has lead a crusade to once again show the strength of the City of Charleston and its incredible ability to help one another.

If you want to become part of something bigger than yourself this holiday season or even beyond, give to those that cannot help themselves.

To all the volunteers of this initiative, so for five years, thank you for once again showing the power of love in Charleston.

Dear Charleston: A Letter to Our City

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Dear Charleston,

As the autumn leaves fall from the trees and the brisk winds awaken us to dark skies, we find ourselves in a time of reflection.

This year, the limits of our souls were tested and we stood strong.? From Charleston to Mount Pleasant, we joined hands in unity to stand up for peace and community.? Blind of color, race, ethnicity or values, we looked directly into the eyes of terror and said, “No, we won’t stand for this.”

The nation and the world watched as we led a crusade for freedom.? Just days after we remembered the Charleston 9, we lost nine more brothers and sisters to a heinous crime of hatred.? Under the hands of the Lord in his home, we witnessed the unthinkable.? Together, we set aside all differences and we united.? Not in violence, not in revenge, but in hope.

On the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War, we became the platform for the separation of black and white once again.? When the blood of Walter Scott spread on Charleston area soil, the potential for a war was in our midst.? Once again, we looked inside ourselves and black and white became a rainbow of acceptance.

Caitlyn, our beloved pit bull taught us that all lives matter.? After expensive surgery, fund raisers and awareness that stretched from coast to coast, Charleston become the home for the fight for animal rights.? One dog, one community together.? Today, we look at Caitlyn and see the most beautiful dog in the world.

Just as we dried our tears, the One Thousand Year Flood ravaged our homes leaving hundreds and thousands lost and confused.? Every town, every city looked for answers, not just for the events of that weekend, but the future.? So many of us lost our homes, our memories and an uncertainty of the future of the land.

The generosity of our neighbors from the North to the South with donations, supplies and volunteers, showed just how much love we emit.? This is a testimony to the value of love and how 2015 has truly defined Charleston as the City of Love and Unity.

When Mitch Lucas announced the shooting and eventual death of Deputy Joseph Matuskovic, we mourned.? Joseph was a family man, friend, neighbor, avid sports fan, outdoors lover and a caring member of our community.? From East to West Coast, officers in uniform came to pay their last respects to this fallen officer.? As we remember Joseph, we know he did this to protect all of us and forever we are indebted.

Now, after 40 years, Mayor Riley, known so fondly as “The Mayor” has gracefully stepped down as the leader of Charleston.? A gentle man with a heart of gold, Mayor Riley has transformed Charleston to one of beauty, historic importance, economic growth, prosperity, unification and hope.? His legacy will continue to live on long after we have departed.? As we welcome our new mayor, we see this as a symbolic sign of change; a fresh perspective and new beginnings.

We love you Charleston with each new sunrise reminding us of a bright future.? We hold you close as you protect us.? We welcome our guests with open arms and a long embrace.

To you, we say Thank you.

Love,

Your Family