When the kids were little, I took them each September to Community Day on the Green of the University of Delaware. An all-day fair, it features flea markets, performances by local talent including young kids doing karate, gymnastics and the like. Local civic groups of all sorts had booths, and the Delaware elected officials would turn out especially on years like this when an election was upcoming.
This year I worked at the Delaware Right to Life booth. I feel a bit bruised up inside, and have a new appreciation for what Moira Sheridan and the other folks on the front lines of pro-life activism in Delaware face each time they go out. I had forgotten how angry and confrontational people can get over the abortion issue. I had my own stack of flyers that I was pushing particularly, inviting folks to the Catholic Scholars-sponsored panel discussion in October on embryological stem cell research. I did introduce myself to Congressman Mike Castle, who had accepted our invitation to be on the panel and give his pro-ESC research POV. He is looking forward to hearing Dr. Gomez-Lobo, he says, having talked to multiple scientists who agreed without exception that embryological stem cells are the ones with the greatest potential. I would love to see his list of scientists talked to.
I ran into an old friend, Ben Williams, who was manning the booth across from DRTL, an effort by a historical preservation group to maintain the site of the one Revolutionary War battle held on Delaware soil - the battle of Cooch's Bridge - undeveloped. Apparently, and this was news to me last year when Ben's booth colleague (and, like Ben, my old babysitter) Nancy Willing spoke at a Newark City Council meeting, there is contention among some as to whether this battle ever took place at all. Nancy and Ben had a bunch of cool maps including one in which Lord Calvert of Baltimore apparently got the location of Cape Henlopen wrong and wound up claiming only the bottom most part of the peninsula to make up the colony of Maryland. According to Nancy, Delaware exists because of this misunderstanding, in which the Cape was positioned far south to its real location, and the boundaries between Delaware and Maryland used the erroneous Cape Henlopen location as the line between colonies.
Ben and I are friends but we haven't been in touch for many years. I saw his brother Dan a few weeks ago and he told me Ben had been back in town for awhile. Ben told me today that he worried about what would happen if he saw me again. I can't say I worried about what would happen, just that I thought it inevitable, and hoped it would happen without me initiating contact. And so it did. We took up exactly as we had 15 or 20 years ago, as if no time had passed. I think my clumsiness with expressing my faith way back then helped cause Ben to drop out of RCIA which he had begun. I did not trust the Holy Spirit to work as I have since come to see he does work in folks of good will and openness who go through the process. I hope that I didn't get in God's way too badly then, even though one of Ben's best friends had taken me to task for even encouraging him in that direction.
Funny, the whole time I talked with Ben today, being so happy to see him and self-conscious about renewing our old acquaintance, I had totally forgotten how he was going to RCIA and I was sponsoring him. I don't even remember now how he got started, if I had to do with that or if he just started inquiries on his own. And I'm not going to beat myself up over asking too many questions of Fr. Brubaker during the last session that Ben attended, which was after receiving the cross and going through the first public statement of intention.
But Ben mentioned God several times during our conversation, and I am reminded that every heart receives a constant calling back to its origin, sometimes a loud one and sometimes quiet, and I pray that Ben be under the Mercy particularly until he hears the call loudly enough to try to pursue his pursuer, again.