Capitol Hill is at first an intimidating place. From outside, it’s the grandeur of the historic building that makes one feel infinitesimal; inside, it’s the echoes rattling from the cold marble floor that induces a sense of isolation and loneliness. At the same time such intimidation is coupled with immense excitement. This pivotal place espouses history, achievement, eminent figures and unrivalled power; it has molded America and shaped human history. On that first day there was a lot to take in, and then there were the meetings.
Last Thursday (June 6) we met with three congressmen on the issue of foreign assistance, calling on them to increase current funding to pre-sequester levels. Moved by our faith and the efforts of the Columban Missionary Society, we were asking Congress to help alleviate global suffering and promote the fullness of life that God intends. Bringing this message to Congress brought us into the democratic process and it felt humbling speaking on behalf of the Columban community all over the world.
Yesterday (June 13), we participated in another ‘Hill visit’ and this time the setting felt more comfortable. I was more focused on our meeting and the details of our planned discussion, remembering that there was important work to be done and that was why we were there. Routine and habit were already supplanting novelty and intimidation. The marble wasn’t an issue this time. Our discussion too was positive; we had a genuine and engaging conversation about prioritizing foreign assistance despite not exactly seeing eye-to-eye.
It is these experiences that I find to be truly invaluable. They are learning opportunities that are attached with the common good, promoting justice and solidarity for all of God’s people. I hope to have many more of them whilst at the Columban Center. And I suspect I will.