On Saturday, after the Women’s March, I met up with a friend who shared with me a very moving story.
There was once a village, and in that village, there was a young woman who went to visit the community elder. She walked into the elder’s tent and instantly began to cry, sharing with her all her problems, woes and fears.
She cried about her family and her children, and the wise woman replied, “It’s okay.”
She cried about work, financial struggles and economic hardships, and the wise woman replied, “It’s okay.”
She cried about her husband and their internal problems and dramas, and the wise elder replied, “It’s okay.”
She vented about her personal frustrations, limitations, and fears, and again, the wise woman replied, “It’s okay.”
After a few hours of crying, she thanked the wise woman and returned home, clear-headed, relieved and calm.
The wise elder, at face value, didn’t really give the young woman much advice or counsel, but she did.
After all, all we really need for healing is empathy, kindness, and compassion. A helping hand and a listening ear who will tell us, “It’s okay.” We also need friendship and community – a tribe of women who are there for each other, offering one another a place to go when they are in need.
This, for me, is what the Women’s March is all about.
On Saturday, women across the globe stood in solidarity and community with one another. Each of us at our own intersection, whether it be at the corner of racism, classism, sexism, sexual orientation, gender identity and social inequality, we all have a story filled with its own struggles and hardships, each unique but essentially the same.
Some of the women I marched with do not agree with my values, beliefs, and ideologies. And I, theirs. Our differences led us to the same intersection not because we all believe in the same thing, or have walked the same path, but because we all, in our own ways, have suffered.
I stood in community with those whose suffering I have not experienced, whose suffering I may not understand or agree with, but I stood with them because we all have our own crosses which, at times, can be too heavy to bear, too painful to hold alone, and so, we come together.
My sign had two separate, yet uniquely powerful messages.
The first, “I know this may seem radical but women are equal.”
This message is to honor the universal truth of equality. You may not look like me, think like me, walk like me, or talk like me, but we are all equal. Equality means equal pay, rights, status and opportunity for all – women’s rights are human rights. Period. We are all human, we all have a pulse, a heartbeat and a truth, a unique purpose, which our lives are here to fulfill, and this truth is innate within each of us.
The second sign says, “To those that have suffered in silence, I am sorry.”
This is to honor the co-suffering of women and humans alike.
From the refugee women who were raped in the middle of their village and forced to flee the violence of their home country.
I am sorry.
To the university student who struggles with her sexual orientation, afraid to admit the truth to herself, let alone her family.
I am sorry.
I am sorry.
To the immigrant who came to this country with nothing, who works 16 hour days in order to provide for her family back home and endures perpetual assault from rowdy and ruthless hotel guests who think her body is part of the room service.
I am sorry.
We, as women, walk different paths but stand at the same intersection – we are all the foundation of community. Women have and will always be healers, and when we come together, when we listen, when we share, and when we honor the divine within us all, that togetherness offers a collective healing in and of itself.
And so to you who have suffered, especially those that have suffered or are suffering in silence, I want to tell you that I am sorry. It’s going to be okay.
The simplicity of our life of contemplation makes us see the face of God in everything, everyone, and everywhere, all the time. His hand in all happenings makes us do all that we do – whether we think, study, work, speak, eat, or take our rest – in Jesus, with Jesus, for Jesus, and to Jesus, under the loving gaze of the Father, being totally available to Him in any form He may come to us.
Give yourself fully to Jesus. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness.
– Saint Teresa of Calcutta, No Greater Love