A clergywoman from the Detroit Conference takes her hat and her Wesleyan values to Washington, D.C.
REV. CORA GLASS
Provisional Deacon, Detroit Conference
The morning of the Women’s March on Washington I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself. I donned my custom made pink cat headband. I slipped on my clergy collar. I clipped on my fanny pack. I zipped up my coat. I stood in front of the mirror working to equalize my inner identity with my outer identity- to become, inside, a powerful pink cat-hat-wearing clergy women.
I didn’t really want to wear a pink cat on my head. At first I objected because I dislike hats, but a friend claimed she could make me a pink cat headband. I even stashed by usual winter headband in my back pocket in case wearing the pink headband ever felt too silly. I didn’t really want to wear the clergy collar. I had not even intended to own a clergy collar, but a friend insisted that she buy one for me a month earlier. I’d made sure my friends marching with me would have on their clergy collars. So on this day, January 21, 2017, I clothed myself in these garments that represented love, power, unity, and justice.
Six of us jumped into the car and drove to Silver Spring UMC in Maryland. The previous day this church had showed us compassion and hospitality with a homemade meal and good conversation. They had hosted an active bystander training. They offered us parking in their parking lot for the day. We made our way to the train station and soon we found other women in their pink hats and we greeted one another. As we pulled into the train station downtown we entered a sea of pink hat wearers. Each new train was greeted with a cheer of joy!
We made our way to the plaza to find a spot for the rally. Here we made new friends. We laughed at protest signs. We cheered alongside the Muslim women standing next to us. We danced together. We remarked that the loaves and fishes story could come to life among all these women and their stockpiles of snacks. The camaraderie of our new circle of friends made us oblivious to the thousands of other people gathering down the streets of Washington.
Speakers and musicians made their way on stage. They spoke for women, for immigrants, for children, for healthcare, for transgendered rights, for prison reform, for refugees, for survivors of sexual assault, for education, and for the earth. They spoke for Black lives, Asian lives, Native American lives, and for differently-abled lives. It took over four hours to hear about all the lives that needed our voices. We stood until our legs ached and our backs bent and our bladders shook. We stood until our crying voices began to give out and until the ground below us turned into mud. Even then we had not heard from all the voices of those have been marginalized, who have been hurt, who have been objectified, and who have been ignored.
As a white women I wanted to start marching and stop listening. I wanted to start fixing the problem without fully understanding the hurt. But as a white women I cannot just walk away, I have to keep listening. As much as we wanted to start marching, so many women had turned up in Washington that there was nowhere to walk. It became a day to listen, a day to sit with new friends, a day to contemplate the multitude of creative signs, a day to collectively feel our bodies ache and our hearts sing with joy. As the day went on, I was less conscious about the pink headband and the clergy collar I presented externally and more conscious of the joyous power that stirred inside me.
On the way home from Washington, each rest stop along the Pennsylvania and Ohio toll roads broke into cheers with every pink-hatted car that pulled in. We hugged strangers. We gave encouragement to those who traveled back to places where they felt alone in their quests for justice and equality. We bought post cards upon which to write notes to our elected officials. The joy continued. “It feels like a dream,” many remarked.
As I unpack, I again pull out my pink cat headband and my clergy collar. What do I do with them now? Inside them dwells 25,000 steps for justice and eight hours of storytelling. Inside them dwells hugs from strangers and lifelong memories. It would be easy to throw my pink hat in my box of souvenirs or to stuff it in the back of my closet with all my other hats I don’t wear. Like the disciples who go back to fishing after the crucifixion, I could easily forget the hope that dwells within my pink hat.
Every morning we must look in the mirror and see ourselves wearing the makings of justice, of peace, or equality. If that takes a pink hat on our head, a clergy collar around our neck, a cross resting on our chest, a stole resting on our shoulders, a Bible verse t-shirt on our back, a bracelet on our wrist, or a tattoo on our calf, then so be it. Christ calls us to the lost, the last, the least, to the voices that linger long after we have stopped listening. Let us put on love, let us cry for justice, let us listen for Christ where he may be least expected. How will you stand for justice today?
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:14