sixteen miles

On Sunday, my younger two kids, my husband, and I drove over the mountain (a bear crossed the road in front of us! with her cub!) to Culpeper to join with the marchers for day four of Walk The Walk 2020.

me and my son
photo credit: my younger daughter

My husband doesn’t like these sorts of things — I’m not an activist, he says (though he’s been doing more anti-racist reading than I have recently) — but the next day was our anniversary and I’d told him that I wanted him to come walk for a day for my present. Not that we’re in the habit of giving each other anniversary presents, or even really celebrating the day, but apparently my husband feels a certain level of guilt over our non-celebratory habits because he came, yay.

twenty-four years, together
photo credit: my younger daughter

I thought the traffic might be lighter because it was Sunday, but no. At one point, traffic was backed up eight miles. (“Inconvenience is not injustice,” one of the marchers wrote on his Facebook page.) Also, it felt like the antagonism was worse. So much cursing. So much rage.

Still, the support far exceeded the negativity. One woman leaning far out her car window, frantically blew two-handed air kisses at us. Another woman, this one Latinx, the wind whipping her hair, her body slowly turning to look us in the eyes as she passed, chanted, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you” over and over, her face serious, her voice fervent, like prayer.

photo credit: my younger daughter

Conversational tidbits… 
*One of the organizers, a former homicide detective with the Baltimore police, filled me in on the behind-the-scene work that goes into a march like this: communications with VDOT, state police, organizational leaders, safety precautions, death threats (for real!) and the intel that’s required as a result (or maybe regardless?).

*A retired officer with the Baltimore police — “You ever watch The Wire?” he asked me. “It’s all true.” — recounted some of the police shootings that have been in the news, breaking down the video footage to explain his take on where things went wrong. There are a lot of good cops, he said. But the system is overloaded. It needs to be reworked.

*A pastor said I surprised him. “I thought all homeschoolers were conservative,” he said, “but here you are with your kids and it confuses me.” I laughed and then filled him in on homeschooling’s wild diversity, but then I was left wondering: Are most homeschoolers conservative? In my world they’re not, so I’ve always assumed that belief is a myth, but maybe it’s actually accurate?

With no shade and no cloud cover, the sun was brutal. After lunch the heat became a real battle. My daughter felt like throwing up, so I pressed a cold water bottle to the back of her neck, and at the next break we iced ourselves down … literally. But then a couple miles from the end, her legs started cramping up so she hopped in the van and met us at the finish. And then my younger son kept doubling over from stomach pain — I think he ate too much at lunch? — and one of the leaders got so worried he put a van on standby. But my son claimed he was fine and actually ended up running the last little bit, ha.

The next day he wasn’t even sore.

The 16 miles completed, we debriefed with the group at an ice cream joint, and then split for home, feasting on junk food all the way. (Strangely enough, it wasn’t until two days later that my 42-miles-in-three-days walk caught up to me — I could not. stop. eating!)

We meet up with the group again on Friday to walk into Washington DC. If you’d like to join, sign up here

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (8.26.19), the quotidian (8.27.18), a big deal, tomatoes in cream, don’t even get me started, atop the ruins, grape parfaits, on not rushing it.


  • Cheryl

    "Any voice that detracts from, negates, or silences those calling for justice is not one that I believe we ought to be listening to."

    I cannot think of a better way to describe how I have felt for the past almost 4 years than your line I quoted above. Thank you.

  • farm buddy

    You are setting a great example for your kids, friends, and family, and for all of us that read your blog!! March on!

  • kay saylor

    This….is love! Thank you for showing up for others. For teaching your kids compassion and activism. For doing the hard work of listening and rethinking what we have been told (or sold). Thoughts will be with you on Friday.

  • Jenny

    I've followed your blog for awhile but rarely comment. I can't remember exactly when I started reading but it's been a long time. I keep reading because I sincerely do want to understand your perspective.

    I am a conservative. Not an in-your-face person…just a mom, wife, grandmother trying to do right. I do think there are extremists on both sides. Thankfully you seem to be reasonable but from my perspective misguided. I guess you might say the same about me.

    I'd like to know what you think about the liberals who are leaving the left? Have you heard any of their conversations? I'll add some links.

    I know your life is full so you may not have time or be interested to give a respectful opinion. But as I said, I've read you for awhile & have wanted to ask this question all summer. I think alot of the anger you're experiencing from the right is more fear than hate…& anger because of the fear they feel. When we're afraid or angry we all tend to lash out & not always in the best way….the rioters are a good example of this.

    So, here are some links & I hope you'll take the time to hear at least some of them.
    You share often about your church so I'll start with Monique. As a person of color & a Christian I think her voice should be a part of the conversation. Her blog is new this year. Her post on BLM & Reparations make some good points.

    I couldn't decide on which video to share from Candace Owens. Search her videos for BLM & Blexit.

    I started watching Karyn after seeing her video about going to a Republican National convention for the first time. She was a Democrat at the time. Now she is a liberal.

    I really have been encouraged by an Australian's view & his accent is easy to listen to. Loved the one about history in response to Pres. Trump's speech at Mt Rushmore & his defense of housewives when the Today show mocks mothers.

    The one is on my 'to watch' list.
    We've decided to pay the $20 to watch the whole movie but the clips will let you know a little about it.

    I heard about Keri Smith when Karlyn Borysenko
    interviewed her about social justice warriors. I want to watch some Unsafe Space but I haven't had time yet.

    I doubt you've watched any of the republican convention but what about all of the personal stories being shared? Herschel Walker? Maximo Alvarez? Tim Scott? Kim Klacik? Vernon Jones? Natalie Harp? there have been so many more.

    I know this list is super long but you've shared in almost every post through the past few months at least a comment on just how serious our problems are. I agree that the problems are big. I've tried to read/watch most of what you've shared. So I hope you'll try to wade through some of these over the next few weeks & give a respectful opinion.

    Thanks so much.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Hi Jenny,

      Thanks for introducing yourself and for sharing your thoughts! 

      Re your suggested reading material…

      Racial issues are incredibly complex and nuanced, and arguments can be made from all side. But because I live in a culture that prioritizes the white perspective (at a terrible cost to those who aren't), I am making a deliberate effort to listen to, and learn from, the people who do not benefit from systemic racism. These people — the immigrants, the minorities, the poor — often have a good handle on truth and compassion, forgiveness and suffering, justice and love (as many great teachers and religious leaders have pointed out over the years.) Any voice that detracts from, negates, or silences those calling for justice is not one that I believe we ought to be listening to. 

    • Anonymous

      Hi Jenny,
      I identify as fairly liberal, and am also a long-time reader of this blog. Looking at the children grow, I think almost ten years . . . makes me feel old!
      Thank you so much for sharing those links. So far, I have read a blog post by Monique and watched two short videos from Candace.
      What stood out to me was that I didn't think they were WRONG. They are just approaching life from such a different perspective than I am. I see similar values, but such different priorities based on those values.
      It was a happy reminder that even the people with whom I disagree so strongly are such good people. It was a unsettling reminder that I can't imagine how I would ever convince them of my conclusions, or they convince me of theirs.
      It was quite eye-opening, and appreciated.

    • Jenny

      Thank you Marie…I really believe there is much less hatred on the conservative side than most liberals believe. I pray that we can learn to listen to each other & not just one side.
      I appreciate you trying to do that.

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