by Elizabeth Heule, Precious Blood Companion
That which guides my every move called upon me, lovingly yet boldly, to join in the Women’s March at our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017. The Divine—the Beloved—called me to rise. It was from my deepest being, that Light, that Knowing, which called me to join the millions of women who gathered for a just and equitable society. That energy and courage carried me to D.C. and enabled me to see the Divine so clearly that I could all but capture it. I was there to march in the Light, for all who are currently being oppressed and disrespected. Women of color and white women experience discrimination differently, but for this moment we stood indivisible in the light of unity. It was a historic moment and I believe I was meant to be there.
We were not the only ones marching; marches were held in almost every major city in the United States, as well as some of the smallest of towns and in many facilities. (For example, of my many memories from the march, my favorite story picture so far is of a sign on a nursing home resident’s door which stated, “Women’s March, meet in front of JoEllen’s door.”) These women, who have stood for justice and equity for so long, remain and will continue to remain steadfast and true to the cause. It was for those women and for justice and equity that I marched—justice and equity for all my family and friends who are women, men, Mexican, Native American, immigrants from other nations, LGBT, Muslim, Black, Brown, and including any and every other label we use. We all have a role in responding to the world around us, and this is my role.
At the marches we stood for each other and against racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and to promote care of all creation. We were shouting to the universe, so all would know. Many of us have been asked why we marched, but those who knew without having to ask are the ones who fill my heart and whose support I use to continue to resist. These issues are not politics to me. They are moral issues, and my sacred journey is to stand in protest when they are threatened. It is my belief in Incarnation, that all is holy and we are here to protect, that is my guiding Light.
I traveled to D.C. with a longtime and dear friend; upon hearing of the march she and I made arrangements immediately to attend the gathering. As the date approached I began having many dreams, dreams of those whom I have loved and who have moved on from this life. I knew they would be with me in spirit, but I wanted to make sure the world knew they were with me—so I decided to put ribbons on my coat with the names of each person I carried spiritually. I then realized that there were many, currently in my life, who may also want to be carried in spirit. So I began to ask everyone if I could carry their spirit with me by placing their name on ribbons that I would bring to Washington D.C. I, of course, wanted to have my wonderful husband and three beautiful daughters with me. I shared the idea with my friend and traveling companion and she began to ask her friends as well and, together, we carried 217 people with us. The night before the march we wrote each name on a ribbon and pinned each of the ribbons to our coats and as we told each other the stories of each person carried, our hotel room became filled with love. In doing this we both experienced a sense of our significant connection to each of these people and so the overpowering sense of unity began. The reason I am telling this is so that those who read this will know the numbers reported to us must be multiplied by at least 100 as I believe each person who physically marched that day easily carried with them at least 100 friends, family and community members.
As we traveled toward the destination point of the march by metro train early the following morning, it was quickly clear that an innumerable amount of people would be attending. At our stop there were approximately 50 people waiting to board, and when the train stopped we entered what I thought was an already full train—but apparently it was not full enough, because by the next three stops the train was so crowded that we were all standing on each other’s feet. During the journey we had a few train issues such as the doors not closing because of so many people, but we eventually made it to the last train station needed to get to the site of the gathering. This train ride intensified our feelings of unity, and even though we were all very uncomfortable everyone was smiling, happily chatting or cheering, and as kind to one another as you may only imagine. We were an overloaded train of people who each stood for the other and I thought that this must feel like the place from which I come from—the place of the Divine Light and Universal Love.
As we departed from the train the hundreds of people already on the platform cheered at our arrival and we all continued to do so at the arrival of each and every train. The size of the crowd quickly quadrupled as we all made our way to the rally location. Along the path to reach our destination we met so many who were carrying on with the usual business of their day, yet they couldn’t help but to notice our coats and would thank us for being there; in these moments I felt honored and humbled to carry all these beautiful people with me. While I am not sure how much our crowd multiplied as we reached 7th and Independence Avenue, I couldn’t help but notice that by then we were a sea of women and men, cisgender and transgender, black, brown, white, and young and old as far as you could see in every direction. The energy of the crowd’s unity and love was overpowering, causing my friend and I both to spontaneously cry while the other consoled. I realized that standing at this intersection of major streets, we had become a manifestation of intersectionality.
We stood for about four hours in a crowd so tight that I couldn’t lift my knees to relieve the pressure without accidentally kicking the person in front of me. At times, an ambulance would slowly make its way through the crowd to assist someone who had either panicked or passed out, but there were no ill words towards each other. On this day it could not go unnoticed that we all truly stood together in peace, harmony and love. No one will ever know the exact number of people who attended, but the massive impact this march will have on our lives cannot and will not be denied.
As the speakers began the crowd roared to life with approval at the words of inspiration that were being shared from the podium. The variety of speakers spoke to the different reasons people were there. Then, finally, this sea of people began to move and march through the streets. The feeling of walking and yelling at the top of my lungs heightened the Knowing within me, heightened the love I have for all people, and unleashed the warrior of Light that I am. There was chanting for all I know personally and don’t know personally who are refugees, immigrants, LGBT, Muslims, Native American, and last, but not least, there were chants for women’s rights. Concern for health care and for our environment also rose from the crowd. It was clear, in this moment we all stood for unity and in doing so we demonstrated in unity. We heard over and over, “We want a spiritually fulfilling, environmentally sustainable, socially just society for all.” Though each of us came for different reasons, that which held us all together is Love, love for the other and love for creation. Maybe not everyone there would describe this experience in the same way that I did or even experienced it in the way I experienced it, but undoubtedly the Divine Light shined on every heart there and lit the flame within.
So many people in one spot were standing with and for the marginalized. It was a demonstration of our commitment to each other and to our planet and the solidarity was palpable. This, for me, was watching that which we know—women bring incarnation into the world, as we have always done. It was one of the most sacred days of my life.
I am a Precious Blood Companion; from that spirituality and from the spirit of St. Gaspar who showed us to stand with those who are marginalized I will continue to march in support for those who feel alienated by society and I will march in resistance to that which will bring harm and fear. St. Gaspar tells us to be holy in the entire person, holy in the execution of our deeds; I believe he marches with me.
by Elizabeth Heule, Precious Blood Companion