[ Monday, in front of the Massachusetts State House just before a Mothers Out Front rally]
LIke many women these days, I am no longer a Woody Allen fan. But the director/writer got one thing right: It really is about showing up. So on a rainy and chilled day when I would have much preferred to stay home and play with my precious grand-daughter, I reluctantly donned my high-performance long underwear, my warmest clothes, my thickest socks and my rain gear and took the T downtown. A veteran of outdoor showing-ups since Vietnam—indeed, many of my clothing choices are strictly based on “Will it keep me warm and dry if I’m standing for hours at a vigil or demonstration?”—I understand how these things work: It’s all about the body count. So I knew I had to be counted.
Now, I have devout friends whose discernment process to test whether or not they’re really called is to ask: Is this act or choice hard? Challenging? Painful? Am I struggling? And only if the answer is “Yes,” do they trust they’re doing God’s work.
Makes sense, right? If doing God’s work were easy, maybe we’d all be doing it! And it’s hard to trust facile—like sending off, with just a few keystrokes, this or that petition to save this or that. (Let’s hear it for “AutoFill”) It’s too darned convenient!
However: My own compass telling me if I’m on the right spiritual path is: Am I overcome by unexpected joy? So I was not expecting a spiritual experience when I grabbed my umbrella on Monday.
I showed up. Sixty others did, too, an awesome and deeply moving turn-out for such a miserable day. Which, need I say this, filled me with unexpected joy!
That evening, warm and dry, when I got the news that the Senate defeated Tar Sands, I gave thanks for the millions who have ever shown up, “in snow or rain or heat or gloom of night,” to protest injustice, to witness against war.