My friend aptly stated that if the March had been scheduled days earlier, before my birthday, I would have been fine. Just that one year more of age seems to have put me in the elderly group, mostly because she is 6 months younger and delighting in this time of her youth, in comparison. Sill, I am confronting the fact that the hippie heart that resides within does not match the broken down body surrounding it. I can barely walk, my feet are reacting to missed medication (a necessary choice to stay awake for the 9 hour drive) and the excessive time spent upright. I wish I could say I am floating on the passion of the experience but mostly I am sleeping, falling into deep stupors as if I missed weeks of sleep instead of one night. I am stumbling, not drunk on hope but rather unable to establish balance again on feet with funky nerve responses. I am maybe too old now to drive all night and protest all day, more suited to a life behind a keyboard with legs propped up and a nap of restoration available at 1:00 each day.
Still, I think of all who have protested before me, all the women who have stood up so that I can vote and bank and drive and use the pill back in college when I chose to. I am confident it wasn’t easy for them, I know there were real costs to body and life. I consider those who have fought for the freedoms of my friends of color, the risks they took to send strangers onto the railroad to freedom, the incredible costs of standing up to be heard at counters and on busses. I think of those who even now brave harsh elements to protect the environment, those who sneak across borders not to commit crimes but to find employment in order to feed their families. My aches seem so minor in light of all who have come before me, who have protested wars and wrongs not just for a day but until their voices were counted, until they achieved the change they sought. I draw inspiration from their selflessness, their push forward that brings us all closer to the garden God created, a place of equality and love with no knowledge of evil.
I may be too broken down physically to make overnight road trips and stand all day but I pray I will never be too aged, too hobbled to speak up for those whose voices are mere whispers. Babies leave the womb demanding that we acknowledge their voice, a shriek to say ,”Notice me” that we slowly teach out of them. Hush, shhh, quiet down. History is rife with examples though of just that need for whispers turning into roars, of the collective sounds of young old and broken down rising up to say, “Notice us, we must be heard, this is important.” Those voices turn into hymns that sing us into the promised land, a place there the water is clean, the air is pure, the earth is lush, where people of all color play together and love one another, where gender is not a barrier, where education is shared freely to all children.
I may be too broken down to ride all night with no sleep but my aches are battle wounds that remind me there is work to be done, my keyboard and phone can help continue the push while I heal. When I am rested up, I may just march again. Hippie hearts really never quiet, they just beat to a new cause, unable to settle into success of the past when injustice is evident. I may be napping today, but Please, let your voice grow loud, louder still. No need to hush on my account. I am with you in spirit.