[Bumper Stickers on a Somerville Volvo, 2016]
Sometimes Spirit merely whispers, “Do it.” Period. Sometimes reasons are not given. Sometimes we’re supposed to simply be faithful to that Still Small Voice. But sometimes, when it’s pouring rain and you’re wondering if you’re really meant to march in a parade, you wish Spirit could be a wee bit more articulate! (Or as Bill Kreidler is reported to have said: “You want me to do what?”)
Sometimes, however, when we, indeed, Do It/ Show Up, reasons are supplied.
Reason #1: Sunday morning, wrestling with my umbrella, sheathed in long underwear, multiple layers, and L.L.Bean-sturdy rain gear, I was nervously approaching the parade-launching area when a bumper sticker caught my eye: “If it’s not fun why do it?” Oh! Right! This is A PARADE! The Honk! Parade! With marching bands! And wacky costumes! And Somerville and Cambridge police blocking traffic so all of us, activists and street bands, can dance down Massachusetts Avenue! Oh, right: even in the midst of God-in-the-Hard-Places, there is Joy.* (Damp Joy, for sure. Bedraggled Joy. Many bands canceling because the rain threatened their instruments. But those of us who Showed Up did get to dance.)
Needless to say, the crowds lining Mass Av were pretty thin this year. But one spectator, huddled under a store awning, did Show Up despite her age and the terrible weather—and became Reason #2. An environmentalist before most of us, she’s now retired and a widow. To see her face light up as our Mothers Out Front group marched past made my day. Because she saw young women with their families showing up. She saw, embodied, the work she’s done being carried on. She saw Sisterhood in action. With banners and red capes. (We were SuperMoms this year.)
There are some who dismiss Honk! as merely college-educated-white-people-being-(publicly)-weird. And there’s some truth to that. This year, though, just as the parade was almost to Harvard Square, Reason #3 joined us: Harvard University’s striking kitchen workers and their supporters. What a thrill to see that long line of protesters claim Mass Av as theirs!
Thank you, Spirit!
*For me, when grappling with pain and brokenness, the joy comes from knowing that at that moment, there is absolutely nothing else I’d rather be doing than looking deeply into that “Ocean of Darkness.” (And asking myself: What am I asked to do?)