Discomfort, Anger, Tears, Foolishness and the Feast of Saint Francis
One hundred feet. It couldn’t have been more than 100 feet. One hundred feet, from the Capitol building in Raleigh, North Carolina to the tour bus parked down the street. These 100 feet were the most significant parts of my Feast of St. Francis. Hand in hand and side by side we marched to the bus singing the gospel song, We Shall Not be Moved.
I spent my Feast of St. Francis on a spontaneous road trip to North Carolina with two of my community members, Allison and Katie. We went to Raleigh to join the Nuns on the Bus tour—a campaign led by NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby organization and their executive director Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS. We joined the tour in its seventh of ten legs. In Raleigh, we were with the sisters for a Rally at the Capitol, a multicultural Mass and community festival, and for an ecumenical breakfast discussion. These were just a few stops of many on the “We the People, We the Voters” tour aimed at encouraging people to vote for the midterm elections.
Prior to our march to the tour bus we stood outside the Capitol building listening to Sr. Simone, three other sisters along for this leg of the tour, Reverend William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP, and Marybe McMillian of AFL-CIO speak on why it is so important for each of us to vote. They also talked about issues to focus on for this election, and shared stories on why they themselves are voters
After hearing Rev. Barber speak on the importance of voting and reasons why this election is a crucial time to vote, the sisters and Marybe joined him on the stage to pray a Franciscan Blessing:
“May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths,
And superficial relationships
So that you may live
Deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression,
And exploitation of people,
So that you may work for
Justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears,
To shed for those who suffer pain,
Rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand
To comfort them and
To turn their pain to joy
And may god bless you
With enough foolishness
To believe that you can
Make a difference in the world,
So that you can do
What others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness
To all our children and the poor.
This blessing not only perfectly sums up the rally and our weekend in Raleigh, but also the passion, exuberance, and joy I have for mission. I have found that during formation and while on mission there will be times of discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness, but I hope that like in the blessing, these times will lead to great fruit.
A spontaneous road trip, a rally at the North Carolina Capitol, a march to a bus, and an interfaith blessing has taught me that in mission I hope that God will bless me with enough foolishness to believe I can make a difference in the world. On the feast of a man who himself was a fool for Christ, it was a fitting reminder of the commitment I am making as a Franciscan lay missioner to work for peace and justice, no matter how difficult it may seem.