I didn’t go to hear celebrities.
I didn’t go because I expected to agree with every sign or every chant.
I didn’t go because I thought a march would instantly solve any problem.
I went because I felt called.
I had the very same feeling Teresa Shook, retired lawyer and grandmother of four, had when the electoral college results were confirmed the night of November 8, 2016.
She simply wrote “I think we should march” online, and then went to bed.
The Facebook page she started before finally falling asleep “blew up.”
Others took up the planning, and in 2.5 months millions of women across the world marched.
Did you note the crucial word above?
Yes, it was “grandmother.”
There is a fierceness in age and a fierceness in motherhood that is all about
the fierceness of love.
I prepared to go on the march by watching footage of Martin Luther King and Fannie Lou Hamer in the 1960s
and by reading nonviolent training materials.
On Facebook, I made this statement:
Tomorrow I march in DC in solidarity with what may turn out to be a million or more women around the world. We march for all who are threatened, not just for ourselves.
I march nonviolently, honoring the spirits of Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Dorothy Cotton, who took the words of Jesus seriously. They believed all people are capable of change when they truly see Love in action. Love that is willing to die but not to kill is the strongest force in the universe. It will trump hate — but only when we who believe have courage.
The night before the march, as I was stocking up on granola bars, cheese, crackers, and veggies, I looked at two blank pieces of poster board and asked them what they wanted to say.
You can see the first poster I made in the picture above: Grandma Power.
Apart from that one daisy that needs another petal, I was happy enough with my creation. 🙂
What should I put on the other side?
I remembered my friend Anita Amstutz saying that my shirt honoring the reasons for the march didn’t say anything about ecology and climate change.
Then I recalled the title of John L. Ruth’s book about Lancaster County Mennonites. It seemed just the right Bible verse. Hence:
These signs were useful for many things. One of them was that they allowed our group of seven to stay together.
One of us would hoist the sign high and then head into the crowd, sometimes going against the flow,
but always met graciously by other marchers.
One of our members was lost temporarily. She eventually found us by hearing her name and seeing the sign.
Why did I decide to focus on being a grandma?
It goes back to my mission of preparing for death while living one good day at a time.
It’s definitely part of jubilación.
The idea of joyful aging relates directly to the biblical concept of jubilee, which is focused on justice–the freeing of both enslaved people and the land itself.
I’m reading Leviticus 25 and trying to learn more about jubilee, thinking about new ways to live out the promise of old age.
Our grandchildren are learning about kindness and justice in school,
singing about the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I want them to prosper, but not at the expense of others.
I want them to be free and to help others be free.
Evidently, other grandmothers are feeling the same way.
Since coming back home, I have been overwhelmed not only by my own memories but by those of other marchers.
Every single person had a unique experience there. Some were squeezed flat for three hours in front of the stage.
They heard all the speeches but had little sense of what was going on all over the city in the streets.
and I hope that you will add your own stories or the ones that you enjoyed reading about in the comments section.
It’s too soon to assess the impact of a day like this, but collecting the fresh impressions is important.
The grandmas, among many others, have been “woke.” We hear our names being called.
No telling what will happen next.
I’d love to know what you think about this past week’s activities, including your doubts and cautions, if you have them, about the march. Right now, while the first glow still burns, is the time to collect stories, songs, and questions. Go!