Marching Women and the Long Journey

NH March 2017Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stood in front of the State Capitol in Concord, NH, in the damp cold weather of the day and spoke to a far-larger-than-anticipated crowd of folks, huddling, mittened and hatted, together, holding their hand-made signs. The expected 1000 turned into over 5000.

Shaheen spoke with energy and conviction, and with the experience of a woman who has picked up and dusted off the broken hearted before.  ‘No more hand-wringing’, she said, ‘let’s get to work, there’s a lot to do.’ And she made a number of concrete suggestions of ways to work together, such as overwhelming that damnable Twitter account with an ocean of email responses that will deluge the White House staff. And write, write, write to everybody in DC, she said, and work in your towns, too.

Jesus recruited disciples in pretty much the same way. He called them to repent, which means to turn around, turn away from their despair and their frustration and their bitter sense that nothing would ever change. And he told them to get to work. There was so very much work to do, he said, urging them to preach hope (the kingdom) and to heal – to heal bodies, but even more, attitudes. Turn things around, one town, one head, one issue at a time. Don’t just go on with the same-old, same-old, he said. Join him, he invited them, in turning things around.

All over the US yesterday, women and men, grandparents and little kids — and here in NH, a large number of dogs — came out of their bubbles of despair and raised their voices and their spirits, and shouted, Yes We Can!

It won’t be easy. Jesus never once said it would be easy. And he often warned them about hard times to come. Jeanne Shaheen told us the new Administration is planning to dismantle the Office that handles Violence Against Women, in this country where 1 in 3 women experience abuse in their homes and 1 in 10 are victims of rape or attempted rape.

And she told us about the Global Gap, a piece of legislation which would forbid any overseas organization or government that is the recipient of US aid from working to enfranchise women voters, promote higher education for women or birth control for women. The Administration wants this Global Gap, she said. And she told us we can handle this. We felt fired up and ready to go when she was done giving us her Mom’s-pep-talk combined with her wise-eye sorting of priorities.

Well, for heaven’s sake, Jesus told us the blind could see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the imprisoned could go free. He could do it, and we can, he said. Yes, he said we can. All of this is an attitude thing, really, and a body thing, too. It requires our bodies.

At the Concord State House a deaf woman spoke to the crowd. She was so full of Spirit we could all understand her. Yes, an interpreter put her signed words into English, but she put so much energy into her arms and body when she signed, we knew what she said.

Jesus went on, in his sermon on the Mount, to tell us we are blessed even in our worst moments. Blessed when we mourn, when we are poor, when we are persecuted and reviled.

We brought our grief, our poverty of spirit, our oppression with us, all across this nation as we marched, and we were, indeed, blessed in the midst of it all.

At the Inauguration, several of Trump’s prosperity preachers, in their prayers, called the USA a Gift from God. No, no, no, no, no!!!!! Bad theology, that.

The earth is a gift, and gifts are treasures, to be tenderly cherished. But nations are human relationships, our choices and our creations, and since Adam and Eve, these have been journeys of work and growth, our tasks and always unfinished. These are our work-to-do, with God’s help. They are not handed to us, and they are not fashioned by God in God’s image. So they are not God’s creations. They are fashioned by us, in the good and evil of our imaginations. They are our creations, creatures made of us and by us and for us, as the Declaration of Independence says.

My imagination was showered with blessing on Saturday. Those blessings came from words, bodies, stories shared, people’s signs, and from pink pussycat hats, one of which ended up on the head of the statue of Daniel Webster.

One sign I loved said: Tinkle, tinkle, little tsar/ Putin put you where you are.
Another had a large picture of the Statue of Liberty, and the words, I’m With Her.
Another said: Trump, I’m a Jew, I know your story and it doesn’t end well.
And yet another read: We can all be leaven in the loaf.

These were our Beatitudes. Take ‘em along with you, and be fired up!
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Image: Daniel Webster wearing a pink pussy hat and a red equality T Shirt. Photo by Nancy Rockwell, at NH Women’s March, 1.21.17

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