Meet Christine Hartman. Christine describes herself as “a United States citizen, a taxpayer, a parent, a woman, a Christian, a health care consumer, and a small business owner.” She is also a member of the Vestry of All Saints Church. She writes “After the presidential election, I was exhausted from waking up in the middle of night worrying about what was going on in our country. I needed to do something. So I decided to make a trip to The White House once a month to make my voice heard. Not only did I want to feel better about what I was doing, I figured it would be a great opportunity for others to make their voices heard as well.”
So she created a website and scheduled her first trip for Thursday, May 11th. Here is her story of that trip:
“I have a sacred secret.”
That’s what I thought to myself in seat 25E on my way to Washington, D.C. on May 10th, signs stowed away in the overhead bin. Every time I thought about standing in front of the White House the next morning, my heart felt warm and my stomach felt wild. The warmth came from the love and prayers I was carrying with me from my family, my friends, and my spiritual community at All Saints Church. The wildness came from embarking on an adventure with no itinerary, just intent.
When I finally made it to the White House on Thursday morning, I noticed a few things.
First, I couldn’t help but notice the rain. You can read more about the lovely weather and some other details about the day on the newest blog entry, “Rain and Shine”. Suffice it to say, my paper signs didn’t last long in the sideways rain.
Second, I noticed how anxious I felt walking up to the White House. Not because I was the only protester there; rather, I was more aware than ever of the Secret Service Police who were stationed around the perimeter. There seemed to be an increased numbers of officers, and there was more of a military tinge than I had experienced in past visits. Luckily, this was before a fence jumper made an appearance the following week, or there likely would have been even more of a looming presence.
Third, I felt an overwhelming sense of being exactly where I needed to be. I have no illusions that my monthly trips are going to move mountains of policy. And that doesn’t make it any less significant to me. If the least I do is serve as a living testament to the power of the First Amendment, that’s enough for me. I don’t believe that’s all God has planned for this journey, but since God and I don’t always agree, far be it from me to project what those plans are!
As if this serendipitous sense of being wasn’t enough, early in the day I was approached by a woman who said, “You go to my church!” Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes was there with her daughter’s school group. The hugs I received from these two was like being embraced by everyone at All Saints and it catapulted me through the day with a vibrant energy all its own.
Back to that sacred secret. By late morning, with nothing but a small, makeshift sign crafted from the shards of my rain-ravaged originals, I worked more praying into my routine. There was a particular spot along the barrier at which I would stand, close my eyes, and pray. For some unknown reason, it had to be the same spot for me every time. This photo shows my vantage point of prayer.
I prayed for our leaders, that they would find their strength of purpose to do what is just and right. I prayed for all people living in the United States of America, that they would experience the unshakeable truth that we are meant to live in community and take care of each other. And I prayed for our children as the refrain “How are the children?” from Traci Blackmon’s powerful speech resonated in my mind all day.
When spontaneous words failed me, “Our Father” was next in line. (I plan to memorize it in Spanish and Mandarin, too, so I can have a little variety!) And when no words would do, I breathed deeply, opened my heart, and welcomed the Holy Spirit in.
The praying hasn’t stopped, especially not with the avalanche of news that has hit us over these past weeks. In the midst of it, I am so grateful for the All Saints community. As we stand together and pray together and care for one another, infusing the spirit of compassion into our world, I can honestly say I am filled with hope in spite of the avalanche.
Thank you for the love and prayers – my heart is full. I am as determined as ever to keep racking up the frequent flier miles and reminding everyone in Washington that we are paying attention. And if you find yourself in Washington, D.C. on June 28th, come join me! I’ll be the one in front of the White House … praying.