Kirsten Hunter is the Director of Religious Education at South Church in Portsmouth, NH and journeyed to Nicaragua with a small group from the church in January, 2017.
I have been back from Nicaragua for a little over a week now.
Such an astounding moment
– to leave
As Trump was preparing to take office
As the Obamas were saying goodbye
With the women’s march gearing up
And the dialogue turned high.
Division was so palpable as we departed
– across aisles, but also between fellows
Women fighting other women for a seat at the table to articulate what feminism should look like in 2017
Liberals, pointing fingers at one another for anything that might be part of the reason for us being where we are
Conservatives trying to breathe into a new definition that has been written upon their heads, that they don’t necessarily own. Or want to own.
At such speed.
A feeling of utter unrest.
– and to return
With Trump in the oval office, and an endless stream of photographs on my facebook feed
Of children, and fathers. Crowds. Passion
And still unrest
And despair, oddly swirling in the words of dear ones
Reflecting on a historic gathering.
Reflecting on history unfolding.
– and in between
This part is even more illusive
I am asking myself to avoid romantic colors as I look for words.
I am reaching to find a way to convey all the things at once, so that I don’t mistakenly suggest simplicity
But we boarded a plane and arrived quite literally into the arms of people doing heroic work.
People who have not had the decades of national peace that our country has experienced.
People who know exactly what it means to feel powerless under the thumb of-
People, even, who know very dark truth about the country that I love.
About the ways that my United States has thrived at the expense of their liberty.
Long before this election.
And still, these people open their arms to me, to us.
And still, these people are just like us
I spent a week learning about the work of women who have organized.
They speak about it like an event. A moment in their life
“When I became organized” in the same way one might “find Jesus”.
I could hear truth in what they were describing, could find parallels, or glimpses of parallels to my own path.
Moments when I found a practice, a routine, a strategy that unfolded.
Moments when some shift led to blooming.
These women, one by one, found each other.
Day by day, spoke with each other
Examined the challenges they were facing in the midst of a revolution.
They looked under the rug
Looked in the faces of those who were oppressing them
Looked into their own hearts
And then, when they felt like they could see it wholly,
They started to strategize on how to break it down.
And for 22 years. They have been breaking it down.
They have been reading books about agriculture and accounting
About medicine and reproductive health
They don’t seem to stop seeking more understanding, but also, they are organized
Which seems to mean, that every new piece of information gets plotted into their vision
Over and over they come back to their vision and it is from that place that they make their next step. And from that place, it seems like anything is possible.
Our week with the women of FEM in Nicaragua was so many things.
Witness, and discussion, and celebration
We shared sorrow and knowledge with one another
We learned from one another
We struggled to find language
We misunderstood, and misspoke, and stumbled over ourselves in ways we don’t even realise
But underlying most of it was a feeling that oddly, we were all doing the same work
We were comrades.
-And so I’m home now
in the midst of all of this madness, and I feel happy. I feel clear and ready to move forward.
I feel at once alarmed by what is being rolled out before me,
But also at ease.
I am prepared to keep breaking it down.
This moment in our country isn’t new
Just a different variety of the same old thing
Greed and power and money, being put before the needs of people.
Taking away access to education, and taking away women’s control of their bodies so that people have fewer tools with which to fight.
Vilifying humans based on their faith, on their skin color, on their sexuality.
This isn’t new.
It’s almost timeless, really.
Which means all the answers are out there.
We just need to organize.
What would FEM do?