It has been an absolute honor to serve on the Ruby Woo Pilgrimage Advisory Council. When I was first asked by Lisa to join the team, there was no hesitation. I knew I needed to be a part of this movement. I felt a great sense of urgency to join a group of women from diverse backgrounds who were all strong women of faith leaders fighting for justice and equality.
As you well know, our country faces many challenges – challenges we know all too well, challenges about disenfranchisement, division, and a distorted narrative that silences our truths.
The Ruby Woo Pilgrimage brought so many unique women together from across the nation and globe to embark on a journey through history. We learned more about the strong women leaders who paved the way for all of us, through the power of story. We visited historic places and spaces where the brave women before us were indeed ahead of their time, fearless in their fought for what was right. As mothers and young daughters both, they knew the importance and need for basic human rights, for acknowledgement as a human being. Isn’t it like the work many of us do today? Through this journey, we gained a better understanding of our true history and the future challenges we face together.
Because this process was built upon our sisterhood, I remain hopeful and renewed.
During our short time together, we were able to share our stories and embrace our differences. Going forward, might tears of gratitude and sorrow bring forth the healing we need to heal each of our respective nations. If we take care of each other and ourselves, we can heal the world – and the world is in great need of healing. Acknowledging genocide and captivity brings a sense of renewal and understanding. For us, as we traveled through the very place many were dislocated from and captured to, we prayed. We prayed for unity and for healing.
The Ruby Woo Pilgrimage paralleled annual events my brothers and sisters partake in. For example, for the past four years, my friends commemorate The Wounded Knee Survivor Run, a horrific event their ancestors survived. The runners run across South Dakota in late December, when weather in late December normally gets to below freezing with wind chills of minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. They take the exact path their ancestors took while fleeing the Wounded Knee Massacre, many of whom were women and children. And on this run, my friends pray as they run.
I’ve had the opportunity to participate for a day or two over the past few years, and it is powerful. While literally suffering on this run in the cold weather, you are praying, crying, and thinking about the struggle and heartache the ancestors were subjected to – but you also feel a sense of renewal and hope. Hope for the future, because we are still here and we carry our ancestors with us every step of the way. Hope as we strive to live a good life for them and future generations.
It’s so important that we, as women, support one another. A common theme in my life is involvement in women’s leadership initiatives, because I believe we must strengthen each other through encouragement and love. We know what it feels like to be bullied and pitted against one another. We must continue to rise above it all as we strive for healthy relationships and healthy behavior, for the younger generation deserves solid leaders.
For we must be leaders who model true sisterhood and praise for one another.