Think about this for minute. The first word we use to describe ourselves to those who see us out on Liberty Avenue is “Christ-like.” I say this because that’s the very first word people see on our 40 DAYS sandwich board. And that’s always struck me as a pretty bold declaration. I mean, is every single one of us – for 40 straight days – really going to be able to live up to that claim?
There are, of course, different ways of being Christ-like. And if you had been standing in front of PP at 6 p.m. on Friday night you would have seen two different versions of what it means to be Christ-like on display at the very same time.
On the side of the semi-circle next to the bar, Lisa C. and I were standing beside each other near the curb. We were facing her two sons – Luke and John – who were standing next to the building as the four of us prayed the rosary together. As we were doing this a man in his late 20’s came from the opposite side of the semi-circle and said: “Thanks guys.” As I began to raise my hand in a gesture of thanks for his kind words, he then added: “I couldn’t have found this place (PP) without you.” It took a second for my mind to register the fact that we had just been the subject of some mild mocking. He then turned towards the PP door and pulled on the handle. It was locked. As he peered inside it was obvious that no one was there who could let him in.
While I watched all of this I felt an immediate sense of satisfaction. I thought to myself, “Good for you – smart-alack.” And I desperately wanted to say him something like: “Hmm. Having a little trouble over there?” But, knowing that this wouldn’t be Christ-like, I simply watched him struggle and said not a word. I even managed to keep the smile that wanted to come out from escaping to my face.
Well, that was my version of being Christ-like. Now take a look at Lisa C’s interpretation. After watching the man struggle with the door for only a few seconds, she suggested to him, in a very kind and sincere manner, that he try one of the call buttons to the right of the door. When those didn’t work, she said: “You know, we’ve seen a lot of the employees go in here (pointing to the bar next door). So the people you’re looking for might be in there.” The man was a little bit stunned at first and you could tell that he didn’t quite know if she was putting him on or not. So she repeated what she – this time with even more sincerity. Well, he was eventually convinced and went into the bar. I don’t remember if he thanked her or not on his way past us, but since we never saw him come back out, it was apparent that Lisa had helped him find the people he was seeking.
As I think back on all of this, it’s not guilt that I feel – it’s inspiration. I take a look at who I am where I am in my walk with God and realize that I probably did the best that I could in that moment. But at the same time it was very powerful to watch someone do so much more. It gives me hope that maybe next time I’m out there, I’ll be able to be just a little more Christ-like.
Now on to the reports:
Very cold this morning, but sunny. During Al’s 7-9 a.m. shift about 7 couples or groups entered PP. He felt so bad for the one little girl who could not have been more than 17. She was accompanied by her mother, the boyfriend, and another girl or woman. She had been crying, obviously was frightened and did not want to have the abortion. Pamela had talked to them, but they went in, and had not come out as of 9 a.m. when Beth arrived to take my shift. The mobile unit, which has not been around for a while, arrived later than usual.
Five people from St. Elizabeth of Hungary were there early in the morning, also two from St. Alexis and others from Hosanna, St. Ferdinand, St. Teresa of Avila & Guardian Angels. Nothing major happened during these first two hours.
In the afternoon we were blessed to have a special guest join us for prayers – Bishop Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The wind was blowing and it was cold in the shade, but no rain or snow and everyone on the sidewalk was grateful for that. I got to talk to Fr Vann for the first time, who lives in Buffalo but was in Pittsburgh and stood on Thursday and today on the sidewalk with us. Father lead us in prayer with Kathy, her sister Patty, and Shannon, all from Unity Community Church in Plum, and John and Mary from St Elizabeth’s. Tom Venditti’s family joined us while Tom is busy leading the very first 40 Days campaign in Greensburg. They just happened to be in town so they spent 2 hours with us. My thanks to everyone who stood with me today.
Jeff (11-1 shift)
This afternoon’s shift went by fairly quietly. PP didn’t seem to be doing that much business. Jeff told me that the escorts had left by late morning, so I guess they weren’t expecting any clients. I was surprised to see Bishop Zubik at our vigil today. I’m really not that surprised because I know how strongly the Catholic Church supports 40 days for Life.
Dean (1-3 shift)