Sr. Simone Campbell became a national figure — a bit of a religious rock star — as a face of the “Nuns on the Bus.” She is a lawyer and lobbyist in addition to being a nun, a poet, and a serious Zen practitioner. Sr. Simone is a helpful voice for longings so many of us share, across many differences, about how to engage with the well-being of our neighbors in this complicated age. Here are two quotes from an interview with Krista Tippett on the On Being radio broadcast.
“In the ’80s I was totally enamored of liberation theology. I thought it was fabulous. It was wonderful. It fit my thing. But then I realized, “Holy moly, I live in the first world. And the reason why third world Latin America needs liberation theology is because of our first world oppression.”
“So what was our agenda? What was the theology we needed to develop? And I came to this insight of I think our sin is our obsession with security. Our obsession that everything ought to work out perfectly for us. That we ought to have every conceivable drop of oil ever that we’d ever need any time. That we have to have electricity. That we have to have the right clothes, so we buy extras in case we need extra layers. [We have] all this obsession with having everything we need, security. We would be better off if we made peace with insecurity. We’re all vulnerable. Security is all illusion.”
And Scripture says, ” Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!”(Hebrews 12 28-29; MSG)
“I sometimes think we, in the United States, think we ought to do something about everything and that it’s our job to fix everything. Well it’s not. That’s way beyond us. It’s more important, I think, that we listen deeply to our stories and then see where[life] leads. [We all need to] do our part. . . whatever our part is. Just do one thing. That’s all we have to do.
“But . . . . our curse is that we think we have to do it all. And then we get overwhelmed. I get all those solicitations in the mail. And I can’t do everything. And so I don’t do anything. But that’s the mistake. Community is about just doing my part.
“You know how in the scripture Paul says we’re one body? Not everybody is an ear; not everybody is an eye. So one day I was meditating, and I was trying to figure out what part of the Body of Christ I am. So I came up with this insight that I think I’m stomach acid. I think that’s my job It’s really important for metabolizing food. You don’t need a large quantity of it. It needs to be contained. And if it runs amok, that’s called illness. So my lobbying generates energy and heat. Doing my part is a very specific small piece that depends on a whole system to be healthy and effective. We all have a piece of it.”
And Scripture says: “Everyone around was in awe – all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Everyday their number grew as God added those who were saved.” (Acts 2:43-47; MSG)