Woodland Park Press
Publication of Woodland Park Presbyterian Church
From the Pastor…..
On January 21, the day after the inauguration, I joined the Womxn’s March in Seattle. I was going because I wanted to be supportive and because I’m worried about our country and world for a whole host of reasons, but I don’t think I could have given a specific answer to the question of “Why march? What good does it do?” But I did decide to go.
A friend texted me several days beforehand asking if I’d come up with any good ideas for a protest sign. I hadn’t. There were too many things I wanted to say! Should my participation in the march be about supporting immigrants and refugees? People with disabilities? Women’s reproductive rights? Sexual abuse prevention? Racial discrimination? A statement against hate speech? And then there were other factors. Should my message be clearly faith-based or not? Should it be serious or funny?
On the morning of the march, I had five ideas for five different signs. Finally, a half hour before my marching partner showed up, I figured I’d better just choose one. I finally chose the one that spoke the most to me—as a woman, as a clergy person, and as someone who loves watching people laugh.
My friend arrived and we made our way to the bus stop and joined the line of 30-40 people waiting. We watched five people make it on to the first bus, saw two more busses pass us by without stopping because they were so full, and finally decided to make friends with other people in the line so we could split the cost of an extremely over-priced Uber ride.
We arrived at Judkins Park at least 15 minutes after the march was supposed to have started. It was incredible. We walked around in awe at the teeming crowds, the sea of pink hats, the number of little girls, grandmothers, young moms with strollers, and men too—dads, grandfathers, partners and friends, many proudly wearing their own pink hats. We weren’t exactly clear what was happening since we’d arrived well after the rally, so we joined the crowd of barely-moving people.
As we crept along the streets at our slow crawl, I experienced what Mimi mentioned in worship the next day—people were extremely polite and careful with one another, apologizing for every bump or jostle, asking nicely before cutting in front of someone. Everywhere we looked, people were smiling and enjoying the scene…enjoying each other. We had great fun pointing out signs that were especially funny, clever, or poignant and other people stopped and asked to take pictures with us and our signs. The signs showed an even greater breadth of concerns and causes than I had considered but, instead of feeling disjointed, it felt like a wonderful affirmation of the diversity of concern and care.
About half way to Seattle Center, someone nearby got a call from someone at home who was watching on TV. The marcher shared the news about the immense crowds in DC, New York, and Chicago, but also the amazing number of marches all over the United States and worldwide. I looked around at the sea of people around me and imagined the same thing happening all over the world…I got chills. At least for me, that was the answer to my question—that is why we march: this incredible feeling of connection, solidarity, and world community. The fact that, by the end of the day, one of the women (who turns out to be my neighbor) who had shared that over-priced Uber ride was now a friend. After months of fearful news stories and worried conversations, this was hopeful and healing. The reality is what it is, and we should be concerned…and it’s really true that we’re not alone.
I’m aware of the critiques of the march that have come out as well, and I am trying to allow myself to be challenged especially by those coming from women of color. It seems like one of the main concerns is this: It’s great that all these people showed up; it’s wonderful that this is the first act of activism for so many…but will we continue to show up? The next time an unarmed black teenager is shot, will we be there even if the day isn’t so sunny and the environment isn’t so cheerful? When undocumented people are threatened, will we make signs and write letters? When laws are passed that are detrimental to people who don’t look like us, will we take a day to protest? Hard but good questions. Questions I intend to hold close in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Fortunately, as a church, we are already good at wrestling with those questions. We don’t always have the answers and we’re not always able to respond as we would like, but we have a faith community that believes that the call of the Gospel is a call to action for the good of all people; and, so, I have faith that we can continue to connect and inspire one another, whatever may come.
In hope and solidarity,