It was 2017. Donald Trump had just been inaugurated. The president’s bad behavior of the past frustrated many women. They decided to march on Washington in protest. But pro-life women were not welcome.
This event was exclusive to a particular mindset–one that viewed the sanctity of human life stance with hostility.
But not all the women shared hostility for all things pro-life.
And that some women learned more about the pro-life perspective that day may simply be due to an aversion to the porta-potty.
If you’ve ever marched in Washington, you are either acquainted with the porta-potty, aka porta-john, or you strategically plan your bathroom breaks. If you are marching in the cold of January, you work harder at the strategic plan of finding bathroom facilities.
In Building the Benedict Option, Leah Libresco tells the story of the Dominican friars of Washington, DC, who welcomed pro-choice protesters to use their bathroom facilities in 2017. The men opened their doors to women protesting the election of Donald Trump–protesting the rise to office of a president whose past behavior had been unsavory to put it mildly–a president who claimed to be pro-life.
At first, it was only 12 women seeking to use the facilities; then it became more than 100. Libresco quotes the account of Brother Martin Davis:
“The peculiar situation of some people wearing ‘Get your rosaries off my ovaries’ next to men wearing rosaries on their belts did not stop many [of the women] from inquiring into what brings us to live lives dedicated to Christ” (105-06).
Libresco explains that the friars answered the women’s questions about their work and their beliefs about abortion and unborn life, among other topics. The grateful women then passed a hat collecting over $100 for the church.
They warned Brother Martin to avoid reading the text on the hat they passed.
It was an unlikely encounter and yet a profound one. The friars may have found the march discouraging. They might have withdrawn and stayed behind closed doors. They might have lost hope.
Libresco: “To be a Christian means to believe that hopelessness is always a misapprehension at best, and, at worst, a form of spiritual attack” (158).
More than 100 women saw the beauty of Christ that day and heard the message of life. The march’s organizers tried to shut out that message. But a simple act of hospitality on a cold day shut the door against hostility. And it didn’t take much.
From Libresco: “[T]he friars weren’t engaging in traditional witness. They weren’t preaching or participating in a street prayer vigil” (106-07).
They were just being hospitable Christians. They obeyed a calling from God and opened a door where minds and hearts had been closed.
Revised and republished from February 7, 2019.
18 Replies to “How to Handle an Unlikely Encounter”
I love finding kindness in the places we least expect. God bless you!
Me too, Jessica. Thanks and God bless!
Being hospitable can open hearts and minds.
It certainly can. Thanks, Melissa. God bless!
What a lovely story! Kindness is always called for, regardless of one’s political beliefs or ideology. My blog addresses this as well.❤️
I’ll look that up, Candice! Thanks and God bless!
God works in mysterious ways. He can be any place at any time. Therefore, we must always be aware of opportunities to be His hands and feet to open a door that might seem closed forever.
Absolutely, Yvonne. May the Lord help us recognize those moments well. Thanks and God bless!
Your interesting story makes a strong point! God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of courage and boldness.
Thanks, Candyce. We are supposed to shine light. These brothers showed us how. God bless!
Thank you for sharing this simple, yet profoundly beautiful act of Christian grace and kindness. I have heard this story before, but I needed to hear it again. May we remember, a small act of kindness echoes on powerfuly.
A small act of kindness can reverberate far and wide. Thanks, Melissa! God bless!
What an amazing yet simple story of hospitality opening the door to the “facilities” and the gospel.
Yes, Karen. Sometimes the Gospel is just that simple. Thanks and God bless!
Volumes spoken without a word – a lesson I needed to be reminded of!
I need the reminder quite frequently myself. Thanks, Ava. God bless!
It speaks volumes that the friars were not intolerant of people they disagreed with. They showed them kindness.
It’s the light of Christian love. And they carry that light. Thanks, Christopher, and God bless!