We’re all in this together
by Katherine Kelly
Today was a partnership unlike any other. It gives the word a new meaning for me. For the past three months, we have been working with Food for the Southern Soul and had planned a full menu with John’s Island tomatoes for tomato pie, Rockville shrimp, pulled pork, cornbread and asparagus for a partnership event on the East Branch of the Cooper River. However, when we cancelled this event, BP, the Land Trust, SEWE and Birds of Prey all wanted to make sure this food went to the community. We called our conservation partner Sam Cook with the Center for Heirs Property Preservation who called the Rt. Rev. Bishop Gadsden with the Reformed Episcopal Church who then put us in contact with the Reverend Hill at St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church.
On Friday afternoon, I called the Rt. Reverend Hill and he welcomed our donation with the most sincere gratitude. He encouraged us to join in Saturday’s 12:00pm vigil and, though I could sense his heart was tired and heavy, his resilient and welcoming spirit was overwhelming. When I hung up the phone with him, I began to think of the events of the past week. Amid the fast and furious preparations for our partnership event with BP, Birds of Prey and SEWE, I had almost forgotten what constituted a true partnership. It is simple for me to think of a partnership in terms of the good work that we accomplish together but, at the end of the day, it’s about the very individuals who work day in and day out to create a more positive and inspired world by coming together as one.
This thought was only further confirmed during yesterday’s 12:00pm vigil. During an hour of prayer and remembrance of the nine lives that were lost, I held and raised my hands with my Ansonborough neighbors, members of my community and others who were deeply affected by the tragedy. Following the vigil, we all came together for food and fellowship. I, alongside other Land Trust and BP staff served the full meal and, after I personally served nearly 6 trays of tomato pie, I paused to take in the sight in front of me for a moment. I watched as those around me laughed, cried and hugged over empty plates of food. This, right before my eyes, was a true partnership – individuals who were deeply or disparately connected coming together to share and to help. Gospel songs began to be sung again, and I believe, at that moment, we all realized that our shared sense of place and identity united us. It truly was an afternoon that nourished the Southern Soul. We may exist in the congregation of St. John’s Church or the staff of LOLT and BP, but together we are all the Soul of the Lowcountry.