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.
I have two blogger friends, Jennifer Murch and Jane Bishop Halteman whose photo-filled reflections I recommend to you,
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!
Beautiful and thoughtful analysis of your inner feelings and thoughts before and after the Woman’s March. I was stunned my the response this march stirred in me. I posted my processing on my FB page and Mennonite Women. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Rosie. I loved your pictures with the pink boas. You and Rachel make a great Grandma Team! Thanks for the comment. Hope your friends on FB have seen your pictures. The stirring part is the part to pay attention to now.
Shirley, I marched for my grandchildren. Pure and simple. THEM. I marched in South Bend with several other grandmas.
That’s what I said to my children also before I went. I march for Owen, Julia, and “sprout.”
Glad to know you were there in South Bend, Kathy. Thanks for letting me know.
Shirley, I love your “Grandma Power” sign, and I enjoyed reading about your experience. I, too, felt called–though I decided to stay and march in Philadelphia. I’ve felt energized by seeing the photos and reading the remarks of people who marched in cities all over the world. I also posted a few photos and wrote about my experience.
You are right that while the fire is still burning, we must continue to press on ( a reminder that I need to make calls and send postcards today).
Thank you, Merril. Isn’t it amazing to read and watch the reports from all over the world? You made Philadelphia the City of Sisterly Love on Saturday. I’m sure there was more than one sign saying that!
Here is a link to your reflections. I should have made sure people knew they were welcome to post links! https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/march-worlds-forgotten-and-remembered/
Going there to read now!
Thanks, Shirley. Perhaps Brotherly AND Sisterly Love. 🙂
I think you are so cool! I didn’t jump on the bandwagon early enough to go to DC, I really don’t like crowds. Later on I was regretting that, so we made our way over to the march in Charlottesville. Even that much smaller sister event stirred something in me that I still don’t quite understand. I expressed it to some friends as the marvel of seeing women on the stage, no men giving “covering” or “permission” and how that moved me. It’s also cool to feel as though I’m in a minority of thought (81% of white evangelicals voted for that guy) but to look out over the mass of humanity and know that I’m not alone in wanting the world to be a better place. I was moved by the experience.
Now Carmen, you are making me blush again. 🙂 Your word “stirring” speaks to me also. It is hard to describe how powerful it is when the little voice inside connects to many voices outside and to one’s values and commitments. Merril, above, talks about “murmurations of emotion” in her post. Lovely, don’t you think?
This is absolutely beautiful, the sentiment and the articulation. Thank you for your conscientious preparation and thoughtful reflection.
Thank you, Kendra. I am honored by your words and seek to be worthy of them.
Shirley, it’s great to read about your experience. David and I were in the nuclear freeze march in NYC in 1982, weeks after getting married. I wore an Amish dress as a symbol of non-violence.
Alas, I no longer tolerate large crowds. Seeing people crowded onto the trains reminded me of being in DC to watch the fireworks on July 4 with friends. We waited for seven trains to go by before I finally said we would have to break up and each of us push onto a train car. That is how we finally got to our destination.
I was also at the 812th birthday celebration of the Hamburg harbor in Germany in 2006. There was a moment that was actually scary, when a crowd came off the trains and people began pushing in on one another. My friends and I had to hold firmly to each others hands so we wouldn’t lose one another. I was hoping no one would panic and run… it could have started a stampede. That was the only situation I ever experienced in which I could imagine how people get trampled.
I have not been in large crowds since.
This is all to say I am impressed with your courage to join the march. Thank you for your story. I especially like the themes you chose.
I know the feeling of being swept along. There were several times along the way that we had to form a “conga line” in order not to get completely swallowed up. I’m glad we never found the speaker’s stand because those people were packed tighter than sardines. After a few hours, that can be very oppressive.
Thanks for your support. I am reminded that for every woman, and man, who marched, there were millions more who were there in spirit.
I should have edited before I posted… I meant “to each others hands.”
Wasn’t it a jubilee! I’m both exhilarated and exhausted after the Women’s March on Chicago. http://wgntv.com/2017/01/24/chicago-womens-march-one-of-the-largest-in-citys-history/
I was tested on my intention to participate. The afternoon before the March I was checking out a new train station and fell hard glasses broke, nose cut, and good right leg severely strained. Then the next morning I was driving to take a train with a friend from her area instead. The fog was so thick I could barely see a cars’ length ahead of me for 3/4ths of the journey. We ended up downtown on Columbus Ave early enough to be in the center of it all.It was exciting to see our numbers grow to 250,000!
I love your poster “we are resilient we have been here before!” Indeed my story.
Mixed responses were received returning home. One of my brothers, the youngest, wrote a post minimizing the march on FB; 60 likes including several family members. On the other hand, all but one of my sisters were supportive and celebrated March accounts. And, a younger female cousin called to tell me 1) U.S. Political news leads on their media; concerns ab. Trump and support high for women’s march with sister marches there as well; 2) shared that global participation numbers are now at 4 million.
We have now begun!
Yes, Audrey, it was a jubilee indeed! So sorry to hear about your accident. I drove through fog to get to our bus meeting place also.
We can expect many conversations with those who don’t understand or approve, but that is part of the process of living into the questions.
We have indeed begun.
p.s. I neglected to insert my younger cousin was calling from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
I must admit I have always kept an eye on your countries politics since your country and its elite citizens have a lot of influence on the whole globe. As my past responses will show, I was not at all shocked by your election results. It was a result based on more truth than the public has ever been exposed to,in the United States or Canada. The election result was also based on the truly brutal performance of past leaders. I was watching livestream of the inauguration events and the speeches. I had one monitor on the pro side of coverage and the other monitor on the negative coverage perspective and quite frankly the degree of divisiveness was shocking even to me, knowing full well that both your typical Democrats and Republicans are controlled by higher powers just for starters. What almost all of the so called prominent women’s representatives stated in their speeches made me ill, especially Madonna and Ms. Judd etc.! Truth is all of the real good men in the world love real good women visa versa! On the other hand when anyone speaks or acts like a pig they deserve to be corrected! I have had pigs in my barn that have lived cleaner lives than some of these people.
I have done my own research on the Bushes and Clintons and Obama’s and they are no different than our Canadian politicians, who are just puppets for the elite people (and power) in this world who are really running things. Your past so called leaders were mostly liars who spoke very little truth whereas at least your new President speaks mostly the truth and a few lies. The statistics and the wars and the divisions caused by your past Presidents is the proof! “The Peoples” lives have NOT improved!
Just imagine if the elite of this world had been able (were allowed) to completely trash your economy and in effect your dollar lost its status as a/the premium dollar… or in other words if the massive scams and wealth redistribution had not been exposed and curtailed…. Yes I have also researched your new president and unlike all your past presidents the public has been thoroughly exposed to his baggage and even the rumors about him BEFORE he was elected. The bottom line is; Trump is publically telling mostly truths and few lies compared to all your past presidents. If Trump continues to be mostly honest and transparent you guys are going to be exposed to magnitudes of reality and truth from a man/woman like you have never witnessed before (or ever heard of) I know that Trump knows what is really going on in this world and I hope and pray he will continue to publically expose it. It is important to listen to the information and to do your own due diligence before doing anything else. The worst thing anyone could ever do with truth is try to avoid it! It is a fact that most of this worlds Corporations and Federal/National Governments are corrupt and DO NOT work for the people. You guys have had a few Presidents in your history who had some guts, whose lives were cut short, long before any great degrees of truth were ever revealed to the public/the people. Just imagine that for the first time in our lifetime you have a President who may actually be motivated by becoming a hero for the people, even with his brutal human flaws. I like the TRUTH (I try my best to LOVE Truth) and I hate lukewarmness and evil.
Dear neighbors; our problems ALL go back directly to the freewill we were all given and the fact that there is a spiritual battle going on for our hearts and minds! Sadly the human race is failing because most do NOT serve GOD! God is a God of Love and does NOT force anyone to love Him! In addition, the majority of those that that do not even believe in God are not using their freewill to do good either. The world so far either does not know the truth or really care about The Truth so of course we are in big trouble. I for one would never simply follow any one movement/group since I am a seeker! The world is by freewill serving evil/satan. I passionately believe we must never stop praying or stop seeking the truth and The Truth!!!
Wow I know in just this little response I have just exposed myself as anything but the typical non-resistant old order Mennonite who came before me, but the truth is way more important than just one of our traditionally closely held tendencies to focus on non-resistance and simply being peaceful.
Peace will come someday but NOT with this “world” that is all around us nowadays. Freedom and Liberty begins with knowing the truth and The Truth!
I personally feel much better if I continue to focus on John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Delmer B. Martin
Elmira Ontario CANADA
Thank you, neighbor Delmer.
You and I disagree on Donald Trump. I won’t attempt to convince you not to trust his words.
You picked one of my own favorite Bible verses at the end. I have a feeling we will all be surprised by the Truth when we see it in all its glory in the light of eternity.
Hello Again Shirley;
Thank You for your response. No matter which side the people are currently on…there is a very substantial NEW movement AND even more importantly a NEW DYNAMIC in full force UNLIKE any of the election cycles. It all comes down to the truth about “who is serving whom? I am completely convinced we here in CANADA will see the same DYNAMIC occur in full force soon. All the leading indicators are already in place, the only difference is our people are less informed about the truth and less organized and in the past the majority of the people were lulled into complacency about what we have witnessed all around us. The truth about the economy and the evil all around is caused by the same evils as in your county.
RE: TRUMP and THIS ELECTION CYCLE and PRESIDENCY TERM BEING DIFFERENT I am completely convinced based on History and my personal knowledge based on my own research that a very very large majority of those that voted Trump in “the movement” ARE: 1. watching him very carefully and will continue to do so for Trumps full term and 2. if he lies to “them” or lets “them” down “the movement” will also turn AGAINST Trump sooner rather than later and 3. There are some VERY influential and powerful anti-NWO and anti-globalists folks in the so called alternative media and they are in their prime and if Trump does not stay personally focused on fighting the New World Order/ Globalists on behalf of these people as well, they will first challenge Trump very publically and very loudly and if not satisfied will definitely turn from passionate supporters to bitter enemies. I believe before Trump even ran he was fully aware of the True DYNAMICS of the people AND 4. Unlike the other puppet presidents from the past Trump is completely self actualized long before ever becoming a politician, EXCEPT FOR for what is obviously an unfulfilled passion for becoming a national hero of the people. This is the ONLY way that Trump will be satisfied. It seems obvious that he himself has deliberately set himself up in such a way that being a “large” success as the President is the ONLY way he will win personally or corporately! Unlike all the other recent previous presidents and the wannabees…if Trump fails as President, he will be personally doomed… and in my opinion so will “the people” due to all the current economic conditions in the world. If Trump fails he will have blown a once in a lifetime AND a one in a billion opportunity that was GIVEN to him to become “a hero of the people”
HOWEVER NO MATTER WHAT, the more people that have discernment and support GODS WILL being done on this earth and make a stand against anyone or anything that is flat out evil the better the results will be. I am NOT part of any Trump or political movement, Just to be clear, I am CANADIAN and just a pilgrim and prodigal son who is passionate about truth and I love THE TRUTH because it makes me FREE!
Delmer B. Martin
I’ve been using my “grandma power” by staying with my eleven year old granddaughter who has a bad stomach flu. Yesterday she was very sick and I prayed with her that God would heal her. Today when I walked in the door she was her old chipper self. Still a bit weak, but we both know where the healing power comes from!
That kind of Grandma Power is the most important of all, Elfrieda. Your love was a healing force, and you pointed your granddaughter to the great Healer. That sense of being connected to future generations and being called by our creator to leave a legacy of kindness and healing is what I was trying to describe above. Meanwhile, you were doing it!
Shirley — There are so many positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing elements to this post. My heart is smiling; it’s wearing a great big grin!
Two nuggets of wisdom that especially speak to my heart are:
“There is a fierceness in age and a fierceness in motherhood that is all about the fierceness of love.”
“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.”
I didn’t march. The itty-bitty, teeny-tiny “town” where I’m currently sabbaticaling (I just made that word up, but I like it!) has one sheriff. He would have single-handedly been able to round up any marchers—peaceful or otherwise—because there weren’t any.
I did, however, continue writing “The Business of Being.” A book that bridges the gap between career and spirituality. I’m currently writing about mindful leadership.
“The best leaders are those with bright minds and warm hearts. They’re people who want to make a positive difference.” Sound familiar? It should. It describes you to a “T.”
Aw, Laurie. Thank you for your kind words. Your work, devoted to leaders in the solitude of your secret getaway, also is a kind of march. You are bringing your bright mind and warm heart away from crowds so that you can devote yourself completely to the process of writing and dreaming of changing the world. “Whatever you’re not changing, your choosing.” Now that would make a great sign!
I loved this post as well as your FB post on Friday evening. During the day on Friday I did not watch or listen to one minute of the inaugural coverage. Instead I spent the day in the studio sewing a dozen pink felt hats, decorated with felt scraps, and stitched with ferocious passion. Five of the hats were worn in D.C. by friends. The other seven were given away in Lancaster, a red county, where Leon and I chose to rally. I had experienced huge rallies in D.C. following the Kent State killings and did not choose to be in the large crowds (or searching for the nearest porta john). Lancaster had a very energetic crowd with inspiring speeches and music. May the energized spirit continue and thrive!
Erma, I can only imagine how beautiful these hats must be. Lancaster must have been an interesting place to march. I haven’t heard other reports from there, so thanks for commenting.
My friend Phyllis is a quilt designer and is putting her energy into stitches also.
There are many ways to use our voices and speak truth to power. Make art not war!
Erma, I am glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t watched any of the inaugural stuff. I just couldn’t bring myself to. But I’m afraid I also didn’t do something as noble as stitching pink hats or march in Lancaster. I continued with my life, as if it weren’t happening. I know this sounds like denial, but I could not face what was happening.
Thanks for this, Shirley. Indeed, from the girstvi heard of this gathering, I too felt called. It’s a great first step. One of my favorite signs read, “where do we meet tomorrow?” Together we can do what we cannot do alone. My reflections go live in a few hours. I hope you’ll come on over.
Janet, I look forward to reading your reflections and invite you to come back and leave a link to them when you do. Thanks for responding to your own call.
Thanks for the invitation. Shirley.
It’s unfortunately one of my longer ones. But I wanted all my reflections in one post.
As Garrison Keillor said recently, “American self-respect is what is at stake here.”
I went from feeling frustrated and angry on the eve of the inauguration to feeling exhilarated and energized on the day of the march. What an honor and a privilege to be a part of history and to march with a wonderful group of Mennonites! Some of my favorite signs included “Bridges, Not Walls”, “Kindness. . .” “Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly”, and of course, “Grandma Power.”
Two of my D.C. area daughters marched and they both were moved to be a part of it. I was glad I hadn’t planned on it as I had been recovering from a cold, and then the prior Sat came down with a stomach virus, so was just regaining my strength. That said, I appreciate your post; some of what’s out there online is pretty (here’s my “grandma” coming out) disgusting in terms of where the culture is going. But I was thrilled to hear there was no violence, no arrests, and a beautiful spirit for the most part among those who gathered. Many from my church who went were extremely moved to feel the force and strength of numbers. I love your description of using the sign to move together and keep together through the throngs. A new appreciation for the woman who pushed through tight crowds to touch the hem of the robe of Jesus. 🙂
Thank you, Melodie. So many ways to experience both the march and the biblical connections. I felt the woman pushing through to touch the hem of the garment also. We who march as Christians need to keep our connection to Jesus clear. His garment holds power to heal and to save. Part of the practice of nonviolence is to ground oneself more deeply in the stories that have shaped us and our ancestors already.
I love the spirit of this blog, and the ideas in each entry fill me with joy and with hope. Your sign at the march reflects your heart, your hope and the solidarity you feel with all of us looking for a voice and wondering how we can best speak truth to power. Thank you so much for responding to the Spirit, as you feel led. That feels me with the desire to not give up hope. Stay at your post, Shirley. The world needs what you have to give — a Spirit-filled grandma who will not give up hope.
Thank you, Don. Your years of listening to the hearts of others comes through to me in your words here. On one level, I don’t want to protest. It’s more comfortable to use my privilege to keep silent. I felt a little like Jonah protesting the role of prophet and the people of Nineveh. On another level, Jonah actually went. Imperfectly. But that’s what it means to have a call and to believe in the Caller.
Another grandma recently used the phrase “older and bolder.” That too.
You heartened me today, Don. Thank you.
Go Grandma(s), go. Go, GOOOO!!
Thank you, Glen. Are you humming a Beach Boys tune, by any chance?
I should point out that one man in the crowd said “Grandpa Power too.” Of course, I agree. And I marched with one Grandpa and had another one cheering at home.
How about Great Grandpa power? That’s where I fit.
This is such a great essay, Shirley. Wish I’d been there—we didn’t go because of work, but I think next time we’ll be there. Doing what’s hard is hard—I usually seem to have a comfortable niche (rut?) I’m reluctant to leave. Maybe why Montaigne recommended travel in old age?
Anyway, what America has installed seems such a huge mistake that it shakes up my notion that progress is going to be linear. And so, how can we not realize it can be lost. Reactionaries like to quote the line about the tree of liberty needing to be watered occasionally with the blood of patriots. I think the grove of humanity needs to be fertilized with humane voices. Who can doubt now that we can go backward as a society?
So I love the humor and positivism in your and others’ approach. One woman’s sign really tickled me: “You know things are messed up when librarians start marching.”
Yes, Richard. Like you, I am half inclined to stay in my comfortable rut. But it feels good to come out of it when so many, many hard-won principles and values are at stake.
You talk about linear progress. I am somewhat comforted by Ken Wilber’s take on Donald Trump. His theory boils down to this eruption of throw-back politics being a necessary stage on the way to a truly integrated culture sounds great, but it still troubles me to see, daily, the destruction taking place in the “grove of humanity.” If you want to read 80 pages in pdf form, send me an email.
I loved that librarian sign. You will love this one too: “Now you’ve pissed Grandma off!!”
Yes! Sorry . . .
Shirley I hope this is not a duplicate comment – I lost it on my smart phone, so I’m now at my computer. Thank you for this lovely post – and bravo to all the wonderful women who stood in solidarity around the world on Sat 21st January! And the men who walked alongside. I watched some of it on TV – we had marches in Cape Town & Durban but not in Johannesburg.
And to the elders who know what is worth standing up for … who can show the youth a thing or two – as they can show us –
Of course, the ‘battle’ is not yet over. I’ve heard about directives recently taken which are alarming to say the least. The stakes are high – it seems almost a patriarchal reaction to women power – these are turbulent times. Women, stay strong, resolute and resilient …
You are coming through loud and strong all the way from South Africa, Susan.
You are so right about the battle not being over.
And there was much reaction to Hillary Cinton, based consciously or unconsciously on the fact that she was a woman. I heard a podcast last night that explained the mindset of many angry voters in the south and throughout the “rust belt.” The image is that people of color and women are “budging the line — or queue.” No one wants to give up power, and the image of the persecuted white male who has been “forgotten” is very strong. I have empathy for the plight of people (many white men, but not all) who have seen their economic prospects stagnate, but I hope at least some women in these places will be empowered to seek common cause with other women. I would love to see all boats rise and all voices heard with respect. “You may call me a dreamer . . .”
Shirley, I think when we frame the anti-Clinton rhetoric as being because Hillary is a woman, we miss the point. For those of us who supported Bernie because we felt he was the stronger candidate with more potential to beat Trump (and it turns out we were probably right), it had nothing to do with Hillary being a woman. It had much more to do with those who have and those who don’t. Those of us on the East Coast and those on the West Coast have been forgetting the people in the “fly over zone” of this country for too long.
The best article I’ve read on this subject was published in The Nation Magazine on November 17: https://www.thenation.com/article/why-do-white-working-class-people-vote-against-their-interests-they-dont/
The trouble is that the class issues are not addressed with a Trump administration, either. He happened to pick up on ideas that Bernie had put out there because he noticed that the people of this country were responding to Bernie’s messages (and BTW the Democratic Party ignored them). Now we have a man who is not only one of our richest, but is implementing dangerous policies leading (more like bullying) this nation.
It comes down to this: we had two horrible choices in November, and the disenfranchised people in the middle of the country voted differently than those of us on the East and West Coasts. Now we have to deal with those consequences. Perhaps the leaders of the DNC should own some of the responsibility for that. And those who voted for Hillary over Bernie because they were afraid of wealth redistribution should also take some of the responsibility.
There were so many signs last year that this country was ready for a revolution. Bernie offered us a peaceful one. The DNC did not take that chance, and now we wait to find out just how badly our human rights will be eroded as a consequence.
I agree that Bernie had the superior analysis of both the mood of the country and the economic conditions many suffer under. I voted for him in the primary also. But when it came down to the actual contest between candidates from the two major parties, everything changed for me. Will read the Nation article. Thanks for the link.
Shirley, I’m so glad you responded to the call to be part of that moving and powerful expression of solidarity in Washington DC last Saturday.
The sentence that gripped me in your blog this week is: Love that is willing to die but not to kill is the strongest force in the universe.
That is a conviction I want to trust and act on in these days.
Me too, Marlene. Me too. And it isn’t easy.
Thanks for adding your voice here, and for the encouragement you have been to me and many others over many years.
Oh my. More comments than I have time to read, but I’m sure I have no new thoughts to add. But I must chime in. Yes, I also felt called.
The energy was and is palpable. You marched in Austin, Sharon? Thanks for chiming in.
I marched for all of my friends and relatives who can’t.
I marched for women across the world who are afraid to and won’t.
I marched for all of the little girls born and unborn who need someone to pave the way for them.
I marched because Jesus told me to love my neighbor and to help the poor, the sick, the lame and the widow.
But most of all, I marched to thank my great-great-grandmothers and aunts for marching for me all of those years ago.
I love your name. Welcome to this space. I don’t believe you have commented before.
What a beautiful statement. So concise and powerful!
Thank you for inspiring the rest of us.
Thank you so much for marching in the name of Grandmas! I would love to join with the same goals as you, but physically am no longer able, so it is extra special to see others out there representing what I would like to be part of. I am also a Mennonite Grandma, and was very sad to hear the discussion about the marches that went on in my Sunday School class this past week. The overwhelming view was that it was just a bunch of women who were pro abortion. I tried to explain about the different signs I had watched and the desires of so many of the women who were there…for peace, for love, for fairness brotherhood among all…but it seemed that minds were made up. I can’t march, but I CAN still try to push the values and ethics that you wonderful ladies represented. Again, THANK YOU! Kathy
I am so happy to feel that I represented you last Saturday. You are so right about the spirit and mood of the marchers. These were women and men who had many things to say, many ways to say them, and who are willing to stand and use their voices for the rights of others. I hope you take Portia’s brief and powerful statement above back to your Sunday School class. Keep the faith. Live the faith. Every day a new issue arises that needs our attention. Today it is torture.
Check out this letter from Cesar Garcia, General Secretary of Mennonite World Conference.
We must obey God rather than
any human authority.
Acts 5:26 (NRSV)
Mixing religion and politics has always been dangerous. Perhaps this is why some churches try to assume neutrality with respect to controversial political issues. These churches tout the fact that a wide range of political positions is possible in their community. While they hold this position they remain ignorant of how their lack of clarity actually benefits certain political tendencies. This means that the real issue is not whether our churches support a specific position, but rather whether that political position is coherent with our walk with Christ.
Christian faith decisions have always had political consequences. This is unavoidable. This was also true for the first Christians when they affirmed Christ as their Lord, in this way taking a political stand against the Roman Empire since this title was reserved exclusively for the emperor. The consequence of making such a grand declaration of faith was the death penalty for many Christians.
Something similar happened in the sixteenth century at the beginning of the Anabaptist movement. When George Blaurock (ca. 1492-1529) requested the help of Conrad Grebel to carry out his decision to be baptized as an adult in January 1525, it meant going against the laws and policies of his time in order to remain true to his spiritual conviction. The above painting by Oliver Wendell Schenk (1972) portrays Blaurock holding a Bible and looking ahead as if into the future. Blaurock decided to rearrange his life based on his faith convictions, and in spite of the legal and political consequences that his decisions implied. Years later he was executed for his choice.
Unfortunately, the history of our churches teaches us that our political decisions have not always been coherent with our faith. As we celebrate World Fellowship Sunday, may we reflect on the current migration and refugee issues around the world and ask God to guide us in our political decisions so that they may be coherent with our choice to follow Christ. Today, just as our forebears in the faith have done, may we look to the future through the lenses of our spiritual convictions irrespective of the consequences that this may bring.
Thank you, Glen, for submitting this excellent letter here. I am inspired by it to look at my own faith tradition and ask what else I am called to be and do.
Even at my age, I am still asking that question, what else am I called to be & do.
Bless you, Glen.
What a day it was! I watched for you knowing you’d be there. I did see two friends from my area (where 10,000 marched in Ithaca, a city of 30,000), plus Ithaca sent another thousand or so to Washington. I was deeply moved by the kindness and tenderness of everyone at the march even at a few moments of feeling crushed in the Metro. I never felt threatened. My deafness meant I needed help and my group watched over me. We were two 14 year-olds, one Asian and one Latin American, one who had immigrated from Ecuador and another from Cameroon, a man about my age, and three women–one in her 40s, one in her 50s, and Grandma (without grandchildren) me. I couldn’t hear much of the speeches, but stayed present with my eyes and my camera. My favorite sight of the day after the love and joy coming out of people’s eyes was a burly black policeman about 6’3″ with a pink hat and the biggest grin imaginable. Another officer told my friend that he wanted to protect our freedom to assemble. I loved it that DC police department allowed the officers to wear pink hats. I didn’t love the symbol so much, but warmed up to it as the day went on. The blush of pink was thrilling on the Metro and on the National Mall.
Now there is so much work to do. So many letters to write, donations to make, people to protect. So many attempts to talk to people who disagree with me so we can understand each other’s perspective and be civil to each other. It’s frightening times with an unleashing of unkindness I haven’t witnessed since the civil right’s movement, but marching gave me hope and faith. Thank you for that second sign. A perfect quote end to the day.
I’m touched that you watched for me, Elaine. It would have been so lovely to meet you in person after reading your inspiring, wise words for years.
It takes extra commitment for you to overcome introversion and deafness in making your statements. John Lewis talks about “When you pray, move your feet.” You were doing that, and those who supported you were doing the same.
Today in our city of 30,000, 2,000 rallied at the courthouse at noon. I am so heartened to know that the disastrous decisions emanating from the White House are being met with resistance. Bless you for yours.
I too am a Mennonite grandma who marched. In Chicago where we has 250,000; five times the amount expected. I can hardly put into words what they day was like for me and I am usually good with words. But I will cherish it forever in my heart. My pastor friend who was so disappointed that she couldn’t make it to D.C. Said at one point,”I don’t think I will ever stop smiling!” That is the kind of inner peace it gave us! I entertained myself for five hours reading the signs of those around us! Many spoke what I was feeling. We chanted, we walked arm in arm, we felt empowered. Through the prodding of others I answered the call to go and I am so glad I did. I was also a very proud mother and grandmother of marchers in DC, Philadelphia , and South Bend. All Goshen College Alumni. May we keep letting our voices be heard until we see the change that our Lord would want!
It’s so good to have your voice here and to know you, and your Goshen College grad daughters, heard the call and marched. We will have many occasions to draw on the strength of that day, as this last week has demonstrated abundantly. Blessings.
We actually had three sons graduate from Goshen! Two sons, a daughter-in-law, another sons girlfriend all graduated from Goshen and marched plus three grandkids that marched. Our other son and his wife are expecting a baby any day so they were not able to go! (You don’t need to publish this just wanted to let you know!)
Please give my regards to all your family, especially to the son and daughter-in-law who expect a baby any day. You have strong ties to my favorite college!
Thank you for including me in your pictures! I’m the grandma from Michigan with the sign “Grandmother Power”. It was so good to meet you briefly. I also loved finding other grandmothers in the crowd!
I brought my sign home and passed it on to another grandmother who attends a protest held every Tuesday in St. Joseph, MI. I am unable to attend these marches because of my work schedule. I added the names of my children (6) and grandchildren (7) on my sign. She is adding the names of her children and grandchildren to the sign as well.
My resistance to the wrongs being done by this person in the White House – I don’t acknowledge him as a president of anything – is inseparable from my instinct to protect my children and grandchildren. I truly feel like the angry mother bear in my sign.
Perhaps we will meet again! – Camellia Pisegna
I was so excited to see your name and your story, here, Camellia! I remember well our brief but heartfelt encounter at the march and regretted that I didn’t write down your name. Now we are linked together as Mama Bears who want a good future for our children and grandchildren and all grandchildren. Many blessings. I continue to meet with a group of women who were at the march too. We send postcards and keep informed on pending legislation and keep pressure on our elected leaders at all levels. Blessings to you, and thanks again for adding your voice in January and ever since then.