“What would your sign say?”

January 21 will long be remembered as the day of the women’s marches. It is so inspiring that women from each continent participated, even Antarctica. We just watched a women’s march that took place in Israel in which Jewish and Arab women marched together. We could not read their signs but I could only imagine that they all wanted peace. There seems to have been such a feeling of joy within these marches.

Barry and I had scheduled our second mentorship four day session during this time, not knowing that these marches would take place. I woke up that morning feeling that something special must be done to honor all of the women and men marching all around the world, and in some way join in their energy. And so Barry and I and the nine women in our group sat at our dining room table and made our own signs using large pieces of paper, crayons, markers and colored pencils. We asked each woman to express the deepest feeling they would like to put on their sign, just as if they would be on full display in Washington DC.

When the signs were finished, we went into the living room and each person stood up with their sign and spoke why the words were so meaningful to them. In this way each person gave a little talk which was inspiring and also insightful into who they are and their deepest values.

My sign was quite simple and said, “Love one another as I have loved you –Jesus.” I have always loved this quote, and my mother repeated it to me often when I was growing up. Jesus loved all people. They did not have to be his own Jewish religion for him to love them and reach out to help. He gave water to a non-Jewish woman at a well, which was forbidden to do. He helped a prostitute and saw goodness in her so that she wanted to change her life and follow him. He had dinner at a tax collector’s house, a man that everyone despised. He even invited another tax collector to be one of his followers. Even his own disciples criticized him for opening his heart and love to so many different types of people that others were shunning. And his response was that he came to help all, a true sense of equality. Equality and love for all beings is what I want to march for.

Barry went last to hold up his sign and we all loved it. “I am a man dedicated to making it safe for all women.” Truly this is who Barry is. Can you only imagine a world in which more men could hold up a sign like that and truly mean it? I posted Barry holding this sign on my very small Facebook page and am pleased with how far this photo went. It is a message needed at this time.

After each person spoke about their sign we then marched around our living room holding our signs and singing a powerful song. We felt connected to each person who was out marching the streets in towns and cities around the world.

Did the marches all over the world do any good?

Forty-eight years ago, Barry and I were in one of the first civil rights marches in the south. We lived in Nashville, Tennessee at the time and we heard about a civil rights march several hours away in the deeper rural south. We, along with our friend Jim, were excited to go and participate. We reached this small southern town and a man named Dick Gregory was there as the organizer and speaker. There were many blacks, but we were the only whites. We were welcomed, but told it was more dangerous for us as whites. We marched with these poor blacks down the streets of the town. The whites looking on yelled and cursed at us and some threw things. It was loud and noisy and scary, but we continued down the street. Then it became violent. The police came and started using clubs and arresting people. One of the organizers told us to leave quickly as they would be hardest on us. Like Harry Potter and the invisible cloak, we left undetected and drove home realizing that we had placed ourselves in a very dangerous situation. There must have been TV coverage of the march, for the next day I was called into my place of work as a public health nurse and told I could never march again or I would lose my job and never be able to get another one in the city.

One march. Did it do any good? Was our effort and putting ourselves in danger worth it? I like to feel that yes it was. True it was only a drop in the bucket of what had to happen, and yet it was a drop and we participated in that drop. Forty years later, our country proudly elected our first black president. All those marches, all those signs, all of that effort in the end truly paid off.

What would your sign say? As a really good practice, sit at your dining room table with crayons or markers and paper and make a sign that holds your deepest feeling about what is going on right now in our world. Make it positive, inspiring and loving, something you could show your children and explain why you wrote what you did. Or you could sit with a group of friends and create your signs together, or sit with your children and talk about it. Your sign, and especially how you live the truth of what it says, will place another drop into the bucket of what is needed right now.

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