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Helene Swanson shares her experience walking across the USA for the Equal Rights Amendment

Month: April, 2014

Open the Floodgates

This amazing pilgrimage I am making across the United States of America for the Equal Rights Amendment is dedicated to my beloved husband Brother William Gaines Swanson who stood by my side and encouraged me to undertake the calling his mother the Rev. Katrina Swanson asked us to undertake in her last year of life. 

Stormy SunsetSunset over the mountains of The Great Basin – Nevada

 I like many others was lost and caught up in the daily affairs of everyday life.  The day he passed into the Hereafter was a miraculous experience, one I hope to share with you more as time goes on.  

Holy Trinity FallonDeacon Nancy Janess of Holy Trinity Church – Fallon, Nevada

William was and still is my best friend and my true love and a tremendous amount of time on this walk I find my self praying in order to cope with the loss. I pray for those I have met along the way, I pray for my friends and my family. And most importantly I pray to understand God more each day.

Scarecrow Ranch FallonSteven Christie of Scarecrow Ranch – Fallon, Nevada

This past week as I walked from Fallon to the small town of Mina I thought I give a try at composing my own prayer.

Wacky Warren CrewOwner Christie and staff of Wacky Warren’s Cafe

and my support person Stella Wright from Fallon to Tonapah, Nevada

Storm ComingDesert storm coming in from the southwest.

Today I share this prayer with you. It is inspired by the beauty which is found in the desert flower which blooms like me in the heat of the day, the bitter cold of the night, winds which top 50+ mile an hour, and freakish rainstorms.

Deep Well TRading PostThe crew at Deep Well Trading Post – Luning, Nevada

But here in the desert there are not only beautiful flowers but beautiful people.

Mina ClubThe patrons and owner of The Mina Club – Mina, Nevada

Alleluia God

Open the Floodgates

of my Heart

of my Mind

So that the Waters of Life 

fill up my dammed up Soul

So that I might join you

in the Hereafter

in the Love and Light in Christ.

Amen.

Desert BloomA desert bloom by Walker Lake Piute Indian Reservation, Nevada

 

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Let’s Do This For Sabrina – Let’s Move Nevada To Ratify The ERA

I arrived in Carson City last night April 10th, 2014 and was taken in by Sabrina, a young lady who is the sole provider of her family.  Sabrina is a mere 20 years old and has put her education on hold to take care of her two younger siblings and her mother.  She hopes, one day, to become an elementary school teacher.  Her mother broke her leg and has been unable to find a job for the better part of the last year and as a waitress is no longer able to bear weight on it.  

 

Sabrina

Sabrina


I met this impressive young lady at the local Starbucks Coffee Company where she works.  She also holds down a second job at a local pizzeria.  She shared with me that the pizzera, a large national chain, has passed her up on promotions for the better part of the year while putting her in charge of training her supervisors who are male and new hires.  They also have not given her a raise equal to her male counterparts.

So if you have any questions as to why I am making this pilgrimage across the USA for the ERA, well, Sabrina is just one reason of a million plus that I am doing this.

I can not stress enough how important the ERA is, so please, sign this petition for Sabrina and the millions of young ladies out there who desire and deserve the best life has to offer http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/lets-pass-the-equal-rights

Tomorrow I will be speaking before the Carson City Democratic Women’s Club.  They are as excited as I am about Nevada ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.  I hope that you will encourage all your friends to sign this petition.

Do this for your mother, for your sister, for your daughters.  Especially for your daughters they are our future and this young lady is a shining example of just how much women sacrifice for their families.  Isn’t it time that we balance the playing field and give the women in your life a fair chance to get ahead?

Again here is the petition link http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/lets-pass-the-equal-rights

Let’s Move Nevada to Ratify the ERA!!

Pilgrimage across the USA for the ERA

Tahoe Rim Trail

Each step I take brings me closer to fulfilling my promise to help pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s a promise I made a decade ago to my late mother-in-law, the Rev. Katrina Swanson. (Katrina was one of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” the first group of women to be ordained as priests in these modern times in the U.S.) A promise made by my husband and me to her in her last year of life. A promise, indeed a vow, and now a dream moving to reality we will resurrect and see enacted the Equal Rights Amendment.

As I look east at the snow-capped Sierras that I am soon to cross, I am reminded of my favorite lines from the poem “Snowflakes” by Linda A. Copp:

Snowflakes spill from heaven’s hand
Lovely and chaste like smooth white sand.
 

Each day I awaken and anxiously check to see if this is a good day to hike the trail over the mountain pass to Lake Tahoe, and then onward to Carson City, capital of Nevada, the first state I’ll pass through of the 15 that have yet to ratify the ERA. I have put my pilgrimage for justice across the United States in God’s hands. God is in charge—not me. And the doors that God has been opening over the last several years are simply amazing.

photo-6

When Toby Blome, a women’s rights activist and Code Pink member, learned that I was to be stuck in the rain, sleet, and snow of a much needed winter storm in northern California, she reached out to her network. Since then I have been staying with a new-found friend, Marida Martin, in her lovely home in Placerville, waiting for the storm to blow over. Toby readily shared her radio spot on KPFA with me on March 8, International Women’s Day, when I launched my walk across the U.S.A. for the ERA. On that glorious day, I was joined by many women from a number of different organizations each representing their cause united under the Katrina’s Dream umbrella. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge together, demonstrating that women are uniting, moving humankind forward to as we have done since creation.

After Nevada, I will press on, on foot, into neighboring Utah, the second of the 15 states dragging their feet on ratifying the ERA. Then, over the coming months, I will make my way through Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The end of the pilgrimage comes on March 8, 2015, after a year of walking, when I will stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., advocating the ERA cause to the elected representatives and senators who are our servants. Standing beside me, many I hope in person, many, many more in spirit, will be the thousands who have supported me during this long, long walk.

In a sense, my journey began to unfold the night in 2005 when a hurricane bearing Katrina’s name hit the city of New Orleans. We Swansons found the signs to be prophetic, for as Katrina died, a hurricane was showing the world just how difficult life is for women, people of color, and those who are economically disadvantaged. Days after Katrina’s death we founded Katrina’s Dream in her memory.

My husband, William Swanson, was in the process of formalizing his call to ordination when he was called home to God’s kingdom this past May 3, 2013.  His passing to God’s realm is a moment in time I go to in my mind daily on this pilgrimage, a moment I go to for comfort and reassurance. On the day of William’s death, our brother Jesus’s message that God’s mansion has many rooms hit home for me. I realized that our acts here are adorning the unfolding framework of the City of God.

We are called to rebuild this planet we have been given, and a first step is to ensure that women here and abroad are restored to their rightful place alongside men. For us in the United States that means adopting the Equal Rights Amendment. A study described in a 2013 Shriver Report found that one in three Americans live below the poverty line, the majority in households headed by a woman. Why must there be a constitutional amendment? Take a look again at the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision in which Supreme Court Justice Scalia ruled that the rights of women are not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

I did not come to the Christian faith easily, although now I am proud to call myself a “kickin’ and screamin’” Episcopalian.  When I met my husband I was no longer attending church, but found solace as a student in studying philosophy, the occult, and other religious materials. William, however, was a cradle Episcopalian and his profound faith in God opened the doors of my heart to see the truth and the light and love in Christ. This pilgrimage I’m on is a working out of my response to God’s call. I walk with a double purpose:

● to assure those with whom I speak that the Episcopal Church is a place where people are welcome to come and explore their relationship with and in God, and

● to be part of ushering in an age of legal gender equality.

There’s much, much more about the pilgrimage and the work of Katrina’s Dream on our website www.katrinasdream.org . Please visit us there, and see the link to the General Convention 2009 endorsement of the ERA! And please join me, at least in spirit, as I continue walking east in the months ahead.