THE COURAGE TO MARCH WITHOUT SNACKS: Spiritual Journey Photo Essay

This is not my story. I literally went along for the ride as support personnel. Even so, I was incredibly moved by the entire experience. And, I got photos! Consider this a sequel to my recent Lord of the Rings post about finding the courage to fight gun violence.

When I heard that an East Carolina diocese youth-led trip to DC for the March for Our Lives Rally on March 24 was in the early planning stage, I offered my services as chaperon. As in, pleeeeeeese, can I go, too?! Maybe I came off a bit cooler, but I was so thinking, pleeeeeeese, can I go, too?! And yes, my presence was required, accepted, and appreciated. There’s a lot of healing for me in that sentence. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

I’m going to tell you right now, logistically, everything went as smooth as can be. Everything related to transportation went as if we were surrounded by safety and efficiency angels. Our fearless coordinator, Emily Gowdy Canady, Program Officer for Youth, Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, heeded the call of some of our diocese youth leaders’ desire to travel to the central event, and she arranged to make it so. I remain in awe of everything Emily handled to get us comfortably there and back again. And, I’m ever so thankful for the coffee and pizza.

Many of the churches in the surrounded area invited groups to sleep over in their buildings so we could easily attend the event the next day. Such a wonderful thing. We stayed at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, which graciously provided us classroom space to sleep and a lovely breakfast. Thanks to Patti Ames, Director of Children’s Ministries, and her fellows, for taking such good care of us!

We arrived on Friday evening in plenty of time to take the bus to Washington National Cathedral for the Interfaith March for Our Lives Prayer Vigil. Here’s the video of the entire event. Go to time 59:00 for the most powerful moments.

This was my first visit to the cathedral, and I was so overwhelmed by the building’s beauty, I didn’t point my camera up high enough. Lovely floor though, don’t you think?


Fellow chaperon, Ashley Simpson, got the better capture. I’m not jealous at all.

The next morning, we arrived at the Metro station in plenty of time. PC: Emily Gowdy Canady

We gathered with other Episcopalians at Church of the Epiphany, where parishioners offered drinks outside and fruit and muffins inside. We can tell that God approved, because sunbeam. PC: Lisa Brown

I’m so grateful to be a member of a Church that takes this kind of stand in writing.

We gathered on the stage for this group photo and blessing.

And then, we headed out with bagged lunches. PC: Lisa Brown

Thank you for everything Church of the Epiphany! Y’all rock so much. PC: Ashley Simpson

Now, because so many people were expected to attend the event, they changed it from a march to a rally. But, we had to march to get there. It was amazing. PC: Emily Gowdy Canady

Here’s my God moment, a.k.a. my moved-to-tears moment.

Just, you know, that I was sharing this historic event with my daughter. I’ll never forget it.

There’s a special place in my heart for Highlights Magazine. So this sign spoke to me, loud and clear. PC: Ashley Simpson

 

God is in the sunbeam. Always. Even if it’s right in your eye. I mean, put your sunglasses on, of course. But, make note of the significance. PC: Pauline Lind

We’re standing about 3/4 of the way back from the second jumbotron. See us?


Our exit from the event was easy-peasy. PC: Emily Gowdy Canady

Twenty minutes to change clothes, pack up the van, and our drive home was miraculously easy. I drove my daughter and fellow chaperon, Rev. Sarah Smith, home to Wilmington from Kinston. I made it to my apartment by 1:00 a.m.

So, I know you’re thinking — Why did you need courage for such a great time? Well, I’m an introvert, and as such, I’d rather be sitting on my couch than doing most anything out in the world. Therefore, an introvert recovery session was in high order the next morning before church. Mind you, “being prone to” doesn’t mean “strict adherence.” Introverts CAN, and actually do, enjoy being out in the world sometimes, depending. But, we gotta know our limitations and allow ourselves time to rest.

Also, I’m a mom and a worrier. And things can go wrong. For example, being in the middle of a tight crowd and suddenly having to go to the bathroom. Yeah, a silly thing to worry about. Especially since porta johns were, in fact, available, and none of us needed them. No one needed the Band-aids I packed either.

But, you know what’s not a silly worry? A shooter coming to our kids’ schools. We have to do something to stop this from ever happening again. Take a baby step out of your comfort zone toward gun safety. Then take another. Just do it. And, do it again.

And in between, if you haven’t already seen it, watch this video of the March for Our Lives: Full Event. It’s three hours. Skip the songs if you want, but take notes. Every single one of these speeches was incredible. Obviously, some more powerful than others. That’s the nature of public speaking. You never know what will resonate with you in just the right way.

For me it was Samantha Fuentes‘s speech. J.K. Rowlings explains why:

I mean, if this kid could do all that, why are we standing around complaining about how difficult it is to get anything done around here? Come on, people. And by “people,” I mean, most definitely, me, too.

Oh, and speaking of J.K. Rowlings, I can’t help but add this link to Wands Up: Did Harry Potter Shape a Generation for the Resistance? So cool.

I offer no food recipe in honor of the fact that there’s no way to always be prepared for whatever’s next on our spiritual journeys. Sometimes, the lesson is to take a deep breath and relax into the knowingness that “snacks” will be provided, and:

“It’ll all turn out well.”

“How will it?”

“I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”

– Shakespeare in Love

However, I can’t let you go away without taking at least some deliciousness along with you:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them. – Isaiah 11:6

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27

So, let’s put our sunglasses on, get ourselves out there, and get to Marching in the Light of God.

Bonus Material:

Last night at our monthly Wilmington Moms Demand Action meeting, our guest speaker was a local March for Our Lives student leader:

When asked what our group could do to help hers, she replied, “Come to our events.” And so, here I go:

And next week, I’ll continue my efforts to help update the handouts for the Wilmington Faiths Against Gun Violence team.

These are my baby steps. What are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Bonus Material Two (Pun intended.):

Be advised that when you actually muster up the courage to put yourself out there for the cause, your bosom might make an appearance on the local news. Fair warning.

 

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2 Responses

  1. JoAnna says:

    As a Wilmington Episcopalian introvert prone to worrying, I can easily relate to the courage part. Good for you! The local March was pretty powerful, so I can imagine (with the help of this post) how phenomenal it was to be in DC.

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