A purpose with pleasure

January 20th. The Women’s March. Again.

The outrage and celebration continue with marches and rallies all over our country and world.

Here, in our community, we came together from both sides of the river, Pennsylvania and New York, to meet at the Main Street Narrowsburg Deck overlooking our beloved Delaware.

It was a gorgeous day, you may remember, one of those rare reprieves from the unrelenting cold. So it’s true: we had good reason to start out happy. As our ranks swelled, the spirit was contagious, as one woman after another greeted the others and old friends embraced.

There were doggies, too. And a few men (no insult intended by that order). In fact, one thoughtful man brought a real camera, the photo of which appeared in last week’s River Reporter. (Thank you, Roy Morsch). That’s the kind of support we like.

Although women have, indeed, taken the lead in this movement for justice, men, our men, know how valuable and important a place they have. “Me, too” is just the cutting edge of a much greater movement for justice.

We each carried our homemade signs expressing what was important to us, part of our purpose for coming out, for speaking out. We all gathered around the banner: “Together We Rise.”

It was more of a stroll than a real march as we worked our way through Main Street and on to the Narrowsburg Diner, our goal for the day. Not expecting as many as the 50 or so of us demonstrators that flooded their diner, the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating as we moved tables and chairs around to better suit our needs—which were simply to be able to talk and visit with each other. And eat. There was no agenda. No meeting. No work to be done yet. There will be time for that: registering people at the polls, attending meetings, writing, visiting our representatives, etc., etc.

Maybe it’s just different in a small town. There’s no one to shout our demands at, no pace to march to, not even a government center to rally around. Just friends and neighbors who care about the issues and have come out to make our voices heard—mainly to one another! And later break bread together. Or pie at the diner. Terrific.

Because it is in that connection, neighbor to neighbor, that conversations happen and spread, our stories get told and listened to, we learn from each other, get ideas, collaborate, laugh, take pleasure in each other and our shared purpose.

I’ll tell you something else about pleasure, about fun and laughing and dancing and music. It’s essential. I have been on the front lines for many years, going back many years ago, at the heart of a movement whose intensity didn’t let up and in cities with no space or quiet. It was different then, of course, but at the core and woven throughout were music and songs and dancing, and people who made you laugh at the absurdities and craziness—lest we all go screaming at the horror.

(A little bit like now, actually.)

But if we are in it for the long haul—and we must be for what is our choice? We have to balance the hard and challenging work, often stressful and sometimes scary, with ways to release tension and nourish ourselves.

So let’s dance and eat together. We need it. I need it.

Stay tuned for a Valentine’s Day Dinner and Dance at the diner, February 10. Neighborhood prices!

[Beverly Sterner is a resident of Damascus, PA.]


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