Call Me Catholic

I Picked Up a Hitchhiker

I really did it.  I picked up a hitchhiker for the first time the other day, with a van full of kids no less.  This was back in January, when we were living in North Dakota.

Backup a Bit

It was a bitterly cold Thursday afternoon, and the children and I were driving into town to attend the funeral of a friend.  It was one of the coldest days of the season with the wind whipping the snow around and dropping the temperature to about -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  We were still a few miles from town when I came up over a hill and spotted a man walking alongside the road.  His whole body was bent over, as he was trudging against the fierce wind.

Immediately my heart leapt, and I knew I had to offer him a ride; he’d die otherwise.  So, I yelled back to the kids that I was going to offer this man a ride, and that I’d explain my actions later.

I slowed down, breathed a prayer of protection to my guardian angel, and rolled down the window and shouted, “Hey!  You want a ride?”

A young face turned to me and halfheartedly waved.  He hadn’t heard me because of the wind.

I boldly tried again, “Get in!”

Then he understood and nodded.  He ran over and pointed to the back of the van, wondering if he ought to ride in the back?

I shook my head.  “No, sit up here, by me.”  I was going to keep my eye on this guy, after all.

He opened the door and quickly jumped in and shuddered.  Again, it was a deadly cold day.  As I picked up speed, he quietly said, “Thank you.  It’s a lot longer walk into town than I remembered.”

Dear Reader, let me tell you now, he reeked of alcohol, and my heart ached for him.  Why was he out walking on such a savagely cold afternoon?  I wanted to ask him this, but didn’t.  Instead, I told him I was driving to the Cathedral and that I’d drop him off anywhere he wanted along the way.  And again, all he said was, “Thank you.”

As I neared town, he mentioned that he’d get out at the Interstate exit.  During this time, I was asking for the guidance of Jesus.  Is there anything, dear Jesus, that you would have me say to this young man?

“I am Catholic,” I blurted out, as I pulled over at the exit.  “Please, you must take this holy card of Jesus.  He loves you so.  And here is His Mother, Mary.  She loves you too.”

There was a pause as he reached for the holy card of Jesus and the Miraculous Medal of Mary.  He looked them.

I continued, “She cares about you, you know.  He does too.”

He looked at me and said, “Thank you.”  Then he opened the door and was gone into the vicious wind.

I turned onto the Interstate and glanced at the silent children in the rearview mirror and paused.  How do I explain myself?  This was certainly something I had never done before, nor would I recommend it.

I began, “Don’t you ever, ever do that–pick up strangers, I mean.”  Then I sighed and continued, “Well, unless the Holy Spirit or your Guardian Angel tells you to do so.  Then you listen and do as your told.”

Pause.  “That’s why I picked that man up.  I was told to.  But that almost never happens.”

More silence.  “We must pray for this young man, children.”

And so we did.  Perhaps you could offer a small prayer for him too, Dear Readers?