GENTLENESS ONE MORE TIME
If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.
I’m glad that “Gentleness” was our theme for this campaign because it gave me the chance to really evaluate how I’ve reacted in the past to people who make negative comments when I’m out there on the sidewalk. And as a direct consequence, I’ve done much better these past weeks with those who make an insulting comment and then keep on walking. In fact, I can’t remember a single occasion when I took the bait and made a reply.
However, my success with those who wanted to stay and engage me in “conversation” was extremely limited. This campaign I had two encounters which clearly fit into this category. And both times I fell well short of how I’d hoped to behave. While I was not what you might call “belligerent,” I was far from gentle. With the second individual, I can remember making more than one sarcastic remark towards her. Each time I did it I instantly thought to myself, “Now why did you go and do that?” The one saving grace in both instances was that, even though I had many more points I wanted to get across, once I realized how high my blood pressure was getting (and how fruitless continued conversation would likely be), I disengaged, walked away, and resumed praying. It was a small consolation, but a consolation nonetheless.
But recently, I’ve discovered that there’s another reason for me to be grateful for this theme of gentleness. It’s had the subtle effect of making me look at some other aspects of my life – specifically, how I interact with those I work with and those I live with. Turns out that I’m not as gentle as I thought I was. And now I know that I need to both pray and work so that some changes can take place in those areas as well.
May God grant us all an increase in gentleness in how we deal with all of our brothers and sisters.
AND NOW, OUR REPORTS. WE LEAD OFF WITH GINNY G. WHO, ALONG WITH BILL. H., FILLED IN AS SMs:
Parishioners from Ss. John and Paul joined us this morning in praying for life. A little into the shift Fr. Tim and the Guardians for Life joined us and prayed the rosary and the Stations of the Cross. There were fewer escorts, but still several (3-4) at each post. One of the parishioners from Ss. John and Paul approached the escorts (these escorts were very young girls) and tried to engage them in dialogue, mentioning Abby Johnson’s book, etc. No dialogue followed her attempts to discuss pro-life matters. There were couples going into the PP building, a few took literature but none came out to the best of my knowledge.
GINNY. G., 7-9
So many people, and so MUCH prayer, going on on the sidewalk this morning! Father Tim and his Guardians for Life were in full swing when we arrived, and we were blessed also with many more prayer warriors from St. Michael in Wheeling, Ss. John & Paul of Franklin Park, Holy Trinity in Robinson, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Kittanning. Sadly, it was also quite the busy day for the clinic as well. We reached out to many who were entering and exiting but received no responses or apparent interest. I should qualify that – WE did not see any response. With ALL the prayer going on today, complete with folks on their knees on the sidewalk, I believe firmly that hearts were touched and seeds planted. The Lord will bring those seeds to fruition, in His time!
At one point, as we were praying vocally as a group, a young man approached and came down the sidewalk in between our two lines of prayer, raising very loudly his opinions that we were only there to advocate control over women’s bodies and that we should be promoting safe sex instead. All of the prayer warriors simply continued praying. He finally calmed down after speaking with a small group consisting of a few escorts and a few vigil participants. I personally rejoiced that that varied little group, even with their opposite opinions, were able to placate him. We prayed for him.
Keep praying for Life!
Sue M., 9-11
Saturday morning is a busy time on the sidewalk in front of PP. Not only is the sidewalk full of prayer warriors who come from a variety of places — but the doors are always opening and closing at PP. Pedestrians abound as they walk to the convention center, bus terminal, and to the Strip District. Volunteers who are doing their best to help keep Pittsburgh clean walk by with their rubber gloves and garbage bags. The many stress related cigarette butts in front of PP get picked up and are traded in for money for the organizations – cigarettes by the pound. PP earns those groups some money…cigarette butts are plentiful.
The day was gloomy. It was catching. Liberty and Smithfield is a place for many close encounters. One young woman who gave me permission to share briefly was waiting for her sister who was inside PP having her second abortion. The woman with whom I spoke was distressed about the decision. We talked at length while prayer warriors from Holy Trinity prayed on the other side of the circle. The woman took pictures of the signs that Diane had made that advertise the 800 # s for help – aptly titled: Abortion Hurts Women. This woman, hurting from her sister’s decision, was there to support because she already knows the after affects on the sister from the first abortion. While not agreeing with the decision to abort, she didn’t leave her sister in need. We hand out Project Rachel information because, while not agreeing with the decision to abort, we know post abortive men and women need help. This young, wise woman agrees that abortion should be illegal. I met Jesus on the sidewalk today and God knows her name.
PP had 18 women upstairs today with many being minorities. The women get a sonogram and a pill to start the process. There is a book upstairs that has testimonies from women who have had abortions…evidently one woman testified that she was having her 6th abortion at PP. PP thrives on repeat customers – and many come from far away.
It was a gloomy day on the sidewalk today.
Hayley shared her story against abortion with me. She is one of seven children and when she lost her father four years ago at the same time that her mother was expecting, they were being counseled by a doctor to have an abortion. But her mother didn’t and both are doing well today.
Thanks to Joe W. who put in extra time on the sidewalk this afternoon. There were several clients at P.P. today and no one seemed interested in accepting the alternative information that SA Maggie was handing out.
The 3-5 shift today was pretty quiet which is a blessing when you are a rookie substitute shift manager. The ritual changing of the guard took place from Dean to me and off I went. Within a few minutes of my wondering if this would be a solo mission, Mary from St Sylvester’s in Brentwood arrived and we promptly started a Rosary. Less than a decade in and Mike from St. Ferdinand’s in Cranberry (my home Parish) arrived. Less than 3 decades in and my namesake brother, Bill, arrived and the four of us were there together for the majority of the shift.
Bill’s daughter, who is 7 months pregnant stopped by to add some joy to our time there. Near the end of the shift Adam arrived, followed by my relief, Jeff, and the baton was successfully passed forward.
Bill S., 3-5
Mike, Mary, and Bill
Jeff B., 5-7 Bill, Mike and I stood for the 5 pm shift.