Do you follow the facebook page for St. Paul Street Evangelization? You should. Their updates are totally uplifting. I love the idea of regular people sharing with other regular people the regular-ness of living a Catholic life. Does that make sense? It's not just priests or sisters or church employees or editors of Catholic publications or insert-who-you-imagine-evangelizing-here. It's you and me. People just like you and me just standing there having a chat. It's a beautiful ministry. Big puffy heart love it.
When I read those updates, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a part of a team someday and experience firsthand what those street evangelizers experience. What it would be like to have a stranger want to just chit chat with you about the faith. Trying to let the Holy Spirit do the talking for you. Would it be weird? Would it be good? Would I be able to do it?
Then I load five kids into the van and haul them to the grocery store. We try to stay out of people's way and stick to the list and not cause a scene and not block the aisles and not run into other people's carts. I try to relax my facial muscles and whisper instead of bark. I dole out granola bars and sippy cups and guide people by the shoulder with one hand while pushing the cart with the other.
And then the strangers- they start coming up to me. And they start chit chatting. And asking questions. My first instinct until this week has been to think "Lawdy, lawdy. Can you not see what I'm dealing with up in here, lady?" But this week, something new flashed into my mind at just the right second. And that flash was this: I have no literal sign that says "Catholic Truth" on it, but just look at these five living, breathing, sometimes dancing, often squealing signs. I carry them around with me wherever I go!
People are thirsting for just a little drop of what we've got, y'all. They wanna know if we're, like, REAL. Are we really doing this? Is this really happening right in front of them in the cereal aisle of Meijer? And you don't have to have a pile of kids for this to happen. If you have one kid (this used to happen to me when I had just Paul in the cart and my big girls were off at school) and you smile and chatter at him while you shop, people will wonder about you. How can they get a little bit of what you got? One lady even stopped me during that era just so she could say "You just really love that baby, don't you?"
On Monday, I kept passing and older gentleman. Not elderly. Just older than I am. At first he said something about a whole lot of something, but he was smiling and I said something like "It's always a party!" Two aisles later he passed me again as we all stopped to peruse the selection of General Mills dried goods. This time he said "So are all these children yours?" Now, I know that questionis supposed to annoy me, but really it just makes me laugh because WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD EVER VOLUNTARILY TAKE EXTRA CHILDREN TO THE GROCERY STORE? No one. Ever. That's who. So I did laugh and answered "yes sir"
Then it was weird. A strange, far-offish expression came over his face and he just started nodding a bit, like something was finally dawning on him. Then he snapped out of it and said "Well, I mean, I have six myself. It's just...nice to see...." and then I could tell he was nervous and didn't want to overstep his bounds or anything so I nodded and said "Well, we got married young. What better thing could I do with my time?"
"Yeah. That's true. Are you going to have more? How old are you?"
(it didn't occur to me to think this was weird, right there in aisle 7 of the grocery store at the moment. roll with it, man)
"Hah! I'm 33, so...."
"Oh, so you've got some time."
"I do. I do. Who knows what could happen? We'll just wait and see I guess." Smile again.
He gets that far off look again. "That's really great that you're okay with it. Great."
Me, with a little nod, then a shrug "Well, once they're grown, is there really anything better? Is there anything better than family?"
A smile. A smile back. And we went on our separate ways.
Someday, street evangelization. Right now my work is at the grocery store.