Throughout my time here at Mission Year I’ve been called a missionary by a few people from home or people that I’ve met here in Chicago. Here’s the thing, I don’t know if that’s what I am. Dorothy Day once said, “Don’t call us saints, we don’t want to be written off that easily.” I think the same applies here, not that I’m comparing myself to Dorothy Day. I’m not out here on some big, mad heroic adventure bringing God to poor neighborhoods. He’s already here. A lot of the time it may be hard to see it. More than a lot of the time. Even though I’m “doing the Lord’s work” as many people have said, I find it hard to even find God in myself. Some days it’s harder than others but I can’t help but feel that I wasn’t sent to Chicago to bring God closer to the city but that I was sent to Chicago so it could bring God closer to me. I’m not going to lie, I find it hard out here. Sometimes I feel lonely being 4,000 odd miles from home. Other times I feel cramped and claustrophobic, surrounded by people in a house with no time to be alone. Days are long, tiring, and stressful and the winter is bitter. But I know God’s here. In Martin Scorsese’s new film, Silence, Father Rodrigues, a priest witnessing the brutal persecution of Japanese Christians whilst suffering himself claims: “Even if God had been silent my whole life until this day, everything I do, everything I say speaks of Him.”
Even though it feels like I’m surrounded by darkness God shines through the cracks. Even though the silence of God seems deafening I can hear the echo of his whisper. Like when one of the kids at my service site, By the Hand, finally understands how to do their homework or levels up on their reading program. Or when I’ve been having a terrible week and someone sends me a letter or a message just when I need it. Or when we can’t get rid of one of our neighbors after having him over for dinner because he’s having such a good time. Or when over 1000 people show up to a rally in support of immigrants, workers and refugees. Most of the things we do in Mission Year aren’t big or lavish or sometimes even exciting. Most of the time it’s just small everyday things, like being a good neighbor. Like continuing to be patient with kids even though they’re doing my head in. Like showing up to show solidarity at rallies. “Small things with great love,” as Mother Theresa used to say.