Since October 20,

  • Early Voting has come and gone in North Carolina and many other states — the beginning of the end of maybe our most emotionally-charged election season yet.
  • The Presbyterian Church (USA) has celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first woman ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
  • I’ve spent about 36 hours a week working as a Computer Operator at my local Early Voting precinct.
  • I’ve continued wading through the search process to find my first ordained call as a Presbyterian pastor.

I woke up this morning and took a deep breath. Election Day. Okay. Here we go.

Like most mornings, I picked up my phone and absentmindedly started scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, where I landed on a live video stream from Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite in Rochester, NY. I’d heard about this tradition before — people leaving their coveted “I Voted” stickers on the grave marker of this champion of women’s rights. But suddenly I realized there were tears in my eyes. They kind of snuck up on me. They were the subtle sort that don’t quite fall, but linger until you blink through them. They were the concrete expression of the deep gratefulness I’ve been feeling over the last couple of weeks.

Gratefulness for the trailblazers who sacrificed so much to make sure women have a say in our country’s present and future. The profound privilege it is for me to cast a ballot.

Gratefulness for the trailblazers who made sure women can claim their place in the pulpit too. The humbling honor it is to stand in sacred spaces with fellow humans.

Really I’m beyond grateful. I’m in awe. This life trail I’m walking on is twice-blazed, lined with saints upon saints who have gone before me and cleared the way to polls and pulpits. Y’all I don’t know if you’ve ever helped clear a literal trail before, but it is hard. work. Exhausting work. Your skin ends up scratched and your sweat makes it sting. And even on a cleared trail the blazes are sometimes hard to see — patches of spray paint or worn metal plates, quietly pointing the way. Maybe not even with obvious arrows, but still saying “You’re in the right place. Keep going.”

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FYI if this trail is in the middle of the woods, it’s definitely not going to stay cleared on its own. Somebodies have to keep showing up to make sure the way stays cleared. My denomination may have 60 years’ worth of female pastors, but there are still people who will compliment my hair or my smile instead of my sermon. Women may have the right to vote in this country, but what about the citizens of any gender who don’t feel safe at the polls or in our neighborhoods because of skin color or orientation or religious identity?

Whatever happens tonight, there will be work to do. But thank God for the ones who have gotten us this far.