Travel Log: Rain Didn’t Stop Us in Springfield, Illinois
Sister Ilaria Buonriposi, CMS
July 13, 2016
We started our second full day on the bus with prayer. In silence, we recalled the people we met yesterday and their stories; together we prayed for the realization of their hopes for their communities. There is so much pain and struggle and -at the same time- there are so many people that with humbleness and tenacity keep weaving a network of inclusiveness!
We had spent the night in Springfield, IL at the headquarters and retirement home of the Dominican Sisters. Before leaving the convent, the sisters of the community gathered around the bus and blessed our journey. It was touching to see the freshness of the committed spirit of those elderly sisters who — despite age and illness — keep ministering through their prayer. While they were praying over us, I felt that our religious communities are complementary to each other; each of us is a small but essential piece of a puzzle to which all people of good will collaborate so that all may have fullness of life.
Looking at them, I thought of the many, many sisters who enthusiastically show up at all our stops: in their daily lives they witness to how economic and social gaps affects the life and the dignity of those they serve. Suddenly, I realized how big is the responsibility of being a nun on the bus: in this moment, we are the visible expression of the loving care and concern that thousands of sisters have for their fellow children of God. Their prayer supports us and reaches the people we meet in this long journey.
For our first stop of the day, we participated in a rally in front of the State Capitol. Despite the disruption of a strong thunderstorm, people listened with attention the stories shared by the speakers.
Gail Hamilton is a health homecare worker. She loves taking care of the disabled and the elderly, accompanying them in a delicate phase of their lives. She takes pride in seeing them thriving in their homes, still connected to their family setting. However, this service is so badly paid that 75% of her colleagues need more than one job to make ends meet.
Shatriya Smith shared about the impact her grandmother had in her black community. She poured her energies into building a better and stronger community, where everyone’s voice could be heard. When she had gone, there was nobody else to whom the community could go, and Shatriya felt compelled to live her legacy. She expressed the concern of being targeted by law enforcement because of the color of her skin and the toll that mass incarceration has on black communities, beyond the person actually in jail. She made a strong call to the development of a relationship with the local police to discuss issues and find solutions: “if the community is united, law and order will be restored,” she said.