Reflection: Day One on the Bus

Sr. Larretta Rivera-Williams, RSM
July 12, 2016

My journey to Wisconsin began in North Carolina where I left behind security of home and the familiarity of friends. I was somewhat apprehensive of what I might encounter, but a tinge of excitement bubbled within as I anticipated joining the Nuns On The Bus. I had read with awe articles about Sister Simone Campbell and followed her on social media, but never had I anticipated actually being on one of her justice journeys.

I grew up in a very protective environment during the Civil Rights movement. I lived a very comfortable life, was educated by white religious sisters who taught27994857370_a7c568c319_o me little or nothing about my culture and the reality of the world around me. However, I listened to adults talk about racial and economic injustices, I became fearfully aware of the riots of 1960’s, questioned militant stories about the Black Panther Party, and felt the sadness seen on faces after the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy. I developed a hunger to know more, but fear of harm gave me little incentive to actively do something about the injustices around me.

Now in one of the most heated and critical times in America, when people are afraid to publicly express their religious and political views, I find myself on a large light blue, green and orange bus — NETWORK Nuns On The Bus — Mending the Gaps. I am gradually being transformed and now speaking before a sea of people about “policies have created the chaos, but policies can create change!”

I listen to the conversations around me as we travel from Wisconsin to Illinois. The tone is light with laughter and solid with excitement of what lies ahead. We will meet supporters and probably those who do not support our efforts. To them wherever we go will be, as Simone says, “a healing presence.”

I have already experienced this healing presence within the voice of the woman who spoke about the death of her younger sister who died of cancer, unable to afford health care. The power of God’s grace filtered throughout the applauding crowd that cheered the accomplishments of a young woman who did not give up after being denied proper mental health care for her bi-polar condition. She shared what it had been like to overcome the struggles of being homeless, jobless, and unable to care for her three young sons.

Tonight as we travel to Springfield, Illinois my heart is full. Although touched by the rawness of humanity my soul delights in the joy of knowing that we, the Nuns On The Bus, have given hope to the hopeless and encouragement to the discouraged as we begin to reweave the fabric of America.

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About ashley

Ashley is NETWORK’s Communications Manager. She leads message development and media strategy to highlight the work of NETWORK, our activists, and partners in their advocacy efforts to mend the gaps. Ashley has been at NETWORK since 2012, and has implemented email and digital strategy, created campaigns and resources to educate the community of activists, and served as immigration lead during the 2012-2013 push for comprehensive immigration reform. She has traveled to 28 states with NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus trips. Ashley graduated from St. Joseph’s University, a Jesuit school in Philadelphia, with a degree in Political Science and minors in Sociology and Faith Justice Studies. During college she worked in the Faith Justice Institute to coordinate service-learning opportunities for students, served as President of SJU Students for Workers’ Rights, and volunteered with LIFT-Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness. Ashley is an active member of Contemplative Leaders in Action, and a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Where she finds inspiration for work: • Connecting with people on Twitter! • Conversations with Catholic Sisters What she loves outside of NETWORK: • Gardening • Discussing Oscar-nominated movies • Quoting most lines from Harry Potter and the West Wing Originally from: Martinsville, New Jersey Why she likes D.C.: It is exciting living in the city where our nation’s laws are created! She also enjoys the DC biking community and being able to visit the monuments and museums anytime she wants. Follow her on Twitter: @APdubs