“What do you seek?” A Call for Community in Kansas City
October 26, 2020
The Nuns on the Bus rolled into my hometown, Kansas City, Mo., on the evening of October 19. I was excited to “go home” for a night and have important conversations with people I knew I could relate to. What you need to know about Kansas Citians is that we’re very passionate people. We’re passionate about our city, our sports teams, our families, our local businesses, our neighbors. So I wasn’t surprised to see Kansas Citians show up to the Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters eager to learn and discuss how we can better the common good during the election season.
After opening the Town Hall with introductions and an overview of the night from Sister Simone, attendees were placed into small discussion groups. Although I had never met my group members, we shared common concerns. We all were finding it hard to get through to the single-issue voters in our lives, and were hitting walls when trying to confront authority figures in our city and our parishes. The Nun on the Bus facilitating my small group conversation was Sister Alice. Sister Alice encouraged us all to remain hopeful in making change. “One small step still moves the whole group forward,” she said.
Coming back to the large group with that in mind, people began to share takeaways from the small group conversations. There was an evident, overarching theme of a need for community among all the Town Hall attendees. We agreed election season was frustrating and isolating. However, what followed the shared frustration were reflections on how we all can create the community we want to be a part of. One attendee shared that her new goal was to “go towards abundance” rather than scarcity. It can be easy to get caught up in negativity, doom scrolling on Twitter or engaging in Facebook comment wars. But we gain nothing from those interactions. Some political conversations we have will be filled with scarcity and not much opportunity to change opinions or reach common ground. So why not strive for relationships and conversations that we know will be fulfilling and productive?
Sister Judy Blake then shared the words that presented a perfect call to action. “Go to people whose hearts can be opened,” she said. “Reach out to others, seek out others.” Her words reminded me of Jesus’s words in John’s Gospel. As two of John’s disciples leave to follow Jesus, Jesus turns to them and says ‘What do you seek?’ (John 1:38-39). That question is more relevant than ever. People come to Jesus for a multitude of reasons, so in the Gospel Jesus prompts us to get specific in what exactly we are seeking from Him. This message directly applied to our Town Hall discussion. What do we seek in our relationships, communities, and conversations ahead of the election and beyond? Do we seek to open hearts and minds, or to create further division? Do we seek scarcity or abundance?
In the quest to build a community of Multi-Issue voters, we seek out others whose hearts can be opened to our message, even if the journey is made up of a series of tiny steps. We are all part of the connective tissue that makes up one body of voters. We may not all have the same opinions, but it is possible to find common ground and create a thriving community of justice seekers.