People Are Beautiful
My favorite part of Crossroads is the people we meet: on the side of the road, in Wal-Mart, in RV parks, at hotels, parishes, and gas stations. They have donated food, money, their homes, and themselves. Each one has their own story, their own gifts, their own uniqueness to offer to the world.
I wouldn’t have been able to make it this summer without the support of so many wonderful priests. It has impressed me to see these devoted spiritual fathers dedicate their time to bring us the Sacraments, and to bless, encourage, and support us.
One such priest was in San Francisco. He celebrated Mass for us several days in a row, and let us speak at his parish. When I asked him his favorite part of being a priest, he quickly replied that he finds great comfort in visiting the dying and administering Anointing of the Sick because of the help he can offer. But this same priest had a hidden talent – tap-dancing! After some pleading, he showed off some of his moves for us. I was blessed by his joy and his priestly service. This was his gift to us.
We’ve also stayed with more host families than I can count. Whether it’s old couples married for 50+ years and still madly in love, young couples building families, or large families, they each offer up their homes, food, and time for us.
There was one host family who really stood out to me. This family with six kids really represented the domestic church. The parents were devout, fun, playful, and relaxed. I noticed that these parents took delight in praising their kids in front of them. It was intensely beautiful to see parents unafraid to express their great love for their children! And their children responded with confidence in their identity. This family was a true model of the Christian life. Their gift was their example to us.
Of course, I’ve met more people than I can list on the side of the road too. Through honks, thumbs up, encouraging words, and even donations, they offer a human reminder of why we do what we do.
My favorite chance meeting was when I ran into a lady in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. She saw my shirt, came up to me and exclaimed, “Pro-life? Me too. What are you guys doing?” I answered her questions about our mission, and thinking our conversation was over, I began to turn and leave. But then she began to share, “You know, I had a son before I was married. I placed him for adoption, and we’ve been reunited for 18 years now. You’d never know he wasn’t raised with my four other children – they’re all great friends. I just don’t understand how someone can take a life.”
I was floored. Here was this complete stranger sharing her heart with me! It was such a privilege to listen to her. A story is something personal, and sharing it makes you vulnerable. She gave me the best gift she had to offer – her story. I gave her a hug in return and we parted.
This human connection makes me marvel. The tiniest of moments can impact a person. The sliver of time it takes to smile or wave can have an effect. It’s definitely affected me. It gives me hope that my walking can be a gift to another person.
Central Walk, 2014