Thursday, April 07, 2005

Papal Sightings

In the days since the death of the late Pope John Paul II, I like many others have been reflecting of the impact of this man on the world, and for many of us, on our own lives. I can't resist telling my story of my own first "encounter" (non-encounter?) with the Pope.

I was coming home from a drudge weekend job at The Liberal-Rag-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. I worked part-time in the circulation complaints department--hey, the money was good; I was a desperate college student. As I ended my work day--sometime around noonish--and walked through Lafayette Park, I noticed a big crowd gathered on the White House front lawn. Everyone was milling around the north entrance, some picture taking, etc. Then all of sudden, the crowd parted--and there was the Pope.

Even for a lapsed Catholic who had no clue the Pope was in town I was caught off guard by the site of him. Oddly, I recall few people besides me in the park as I picked up my pace to see more of the goings on. I just stood there feeling like I had happened onto a private gathering, watching as the Pope as he turned his back and was ushered into the White House, by I suppose, Ronald Reagan.

I made my way back to my fraternity house, where the brothers were all aflutter because--the Pope was in town. (I had no idea until a few minutes earlier.) "Whaddya mean you're not going to see the Pope!" said Danny, who is Jewish, as were all my brothers except for an odd Muslim or two, and from Bayside, N.Y. "We're all going! This is a big deal. And you're Catholic!" (Little did he know.)

So Danny looked at me as if I was some kind of freak for being so detached.

(To be continued . . . )

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