Nuns on the Bus!
Russellville, Arkansas USA
“One by one, these courageous women stepped off the bus and were escorted across the street and through the crowd.”
“Reasonable revenue for responsible programs”—that is the mantra Sister Simone Campbell left with a crowd of over 300 faithful DC followers, and a legacy that I am certain she and her Sisters left in their wake during the Nuns on the Bus road trip that ended July 2. These women visited nine states: Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The purpose of the bus tour was to advocate for a Faithful Budget as an alternative to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) Federal Budget Plan, which calls for budget cuts to programs that are crucial for taking care of our poorest Americans, including cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, and retirement funding.
The nuns met with Congressional staff to discuss the budget and also shared their support for Catholic sisters across the country who look out for the poor in this country. On July 2nd I was blessed and honored to stand with friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers alike to welcome home a bus full of passionate women who had just spent two weeks on the road, advocating for the dignity of all Americans.
It had been a hot and stressful morning of power outage setbacks and advocacy flyer typos, but all of my ‘first world’ problems seemed obsolete as I turned up First Street and headed in the direction of the United Methodist Building, next door to the US Supreme Court and across the street from the US Capitol – the prime location for a faith-based protest. There was an excitement in the air that was so thick it was hardly distinguishable from the humid July heat that threatened to force everyone back into the comfort of an air conditioned eatery or office building. But heat or no heat, today was different. Today, there were more important things to concern ourselves with than sweat and sunburns. Today was a day where we focused not on ourselves, but on our country and on the most vulnerable people in our communities. It was a day of solidarity, compassion, and good ole American civil rights rallying.
The rally was scheduled to begin at noon and those sweet nuns were not a minute late! As the giant charter bus rounded the corner onto First Street, music seemed to have erupted from the ground and the ralliers went wild, rushing to the edge of the sidewalk, stepping into the street for a better view, waving, hollering, and snapping pictures. The press was no exception to the excitement as they scurried and shuffled to the bus, with all of their equipment, to catch a glimpse of the nuns dismounting from their brightly colored diesel-powered chariot. One by one, these courageous women stepped off the bus and were escorted across the street and through the crowd to the stage in front of the Methodist Building. To watch this scene unfold was to be overcome with a mix of both comic laughter and proud silence. It was a welcoming fit for a rock star or movie premiere cast, but the Sisters showed no sign of authority or arrogance. Rather, each and every one of them made their way through the crowd with expressions of sheer delight and gratitude, as one might find on the face of a grandmother whose darling grandchildren had collected a bouquet of wildflowers just for her.
It is difficult to articulate the impact these Sisters have had on me as I have kept up with Nuns on the Bus. As a fellow Catholic, I am extremely proud of our Sisters for publicly advocating the Church’s social justice teaching, and as a modern woman, I am inspired by their courage and devotion to work for a brighter future.
For as long as I can remember, I have made the claim that, “I’m going to save the world.” To be clear, I am very aware that I cannot actually save the world; that has already been done. For all practical purposes, I want to be involved in making a difference for the people around me, and it is my life’s goal to be a servant and a leader in all I do. But as a young woman with such a big dream and hardly a concrete plan of action, it is an incredibly daunting future that lies ahead. How much schooling does it require to blaze such an ambitious trail? Can you get a masters degree in Saving the World? Where should I live to be in the prime location for world-saving opportunities? These are the questions I ask myself every day in some form or another, and these are the very questions Nuns on the Bus has helped me to reconcile myself with. These women know their faith, they stick together, and they trust their gut. With Nuns on the Bus as my example to follow and shoes to fill, I am confident that I can be a bearer of peace and justice in my community and my country.
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The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.