Wake Me Up When June Ends – From Emanuel AME to San Bernandino – A Trail of Blood Continues

By Mark A. Leon

On a warm Wednesday evening in June, the world was shaken by a horrific act that took the lives of nine faithful members of the Charleston, SC community at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.? An act so heinous and premeditated that it had the world questioning the core of humanity.? Tonight we look on once again from our televisions and tablets and await further details that help answer the question, “why?” as the media flocks to the other side of the the country to a spot in Southern California where there will be fourteen lives laid to rest before their time should be up.

Since June a stream of tears has traveled from the East to West Coast leaving us uncertain and in a state of fear.? We can question until we are driven to insanity, but it won’t bring back lives.? What we can do is so much stronger; love life, humanity and one another.

As I reflect on my most valued moments, I am taken to a place where children laugh and play in the sand as the calming sounds of waves brush off their feet and sink them into the grains.? Then as the moon shines just the right amount of light through the window, I am safe under a thin white sheet holding my loved one as tight as I can.? That is the future I want for my children and the present I want today.

Once again, as I did the morning of June 18 walking The Battery at 6 AM, I ask myself the question “why?” as I think of the families of the victims mourning this evening.

My only saving grace is faith and hope and is there a more perfect time of the year when the world collectively looks past the commercial elements of the season and embraces the shining light over Bethlehem that symbolizes purity and innocence?? As we enter the holiday season, we have an opportunity to truly make a difference.? Not with sacrifice, but a commitment to our families, neighbors and strangers to live in unity.

Often I find myself praising peace, but it is so much more than sharing words; but converting to action.? I have never been in a physical fight or shot a gun nor am I pleading to the world to do the same.? That would be an impossible task.? Earlier this week, I was in a foreign land where law enforcement carried machines guns.? I was safe and scared all at the same time.? It is difficult when this level of conflict takes over your very soul.? I am not back home where our law enforcement carries much small weapons and still that conflict eats at my core.

Over and over tonight I listened to the words Jonathan Larson wrote over 20 years ago, which has been performed and embraced in over 100 countries and all I could think of is that 9 people in Charleston and 14 in San Bernandino will never have another today; but we do:

There is no future
There is no past
Thank God this moment’s not the last

There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret– or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There’s only yes
Only tonight
We must let go
To know what is right
No other course
No other way
No day but today

I can’t control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only hope
is just to be

There’s only now
There’s only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today

The sun will rise tomorrow for most of us.? Many will shower, drive to work, have a cup or two of coffee, earn a paycheck, come home to dinner and watch the Big Bang Theory.? During that day, we will text a loved one, send a cute note, give them a hug when we come home and maybe even surprise them with flowers.

A special few will see life a little different.? The smell of the flowers will be a little stronger, the smile on a babies face will make you smile a little brighter, the sound of a song will move you to tears and the warmth of the sun will feel like something you never experienced before.

Tomorrow will come soon and I will express a quiet moment of thought and prayer for the entire community of San Bernandino and for all the places around the world that are experiencing hatred and violence.? I will continue to have faith in a world of peace.

It isn’t such a bad idea after all.