by Ivy Beckwith
I have been struck by the outpouring of emotion over the death of John Paul II over the last week. Watching the crowds holding vigil in St. Peter’s Square or those waiting in line for 16 hours for a chance to stand before his body has given me pause and made me wonder about our secular world. One of those participating in the endless cable TV chatter about the pope said he “could fill the squares and but not the churches.” Perhaps this is much more an indictment of the church than the pope. Secular Europeans have showed up in the millions to venerate this man in his death. Somehow his story intersected with and touched theirs in a way we could ever have fathomed until now—and in ways the church never could or wasn’t allowed to.
I think this event speaks to something many of us agree to intuitively – the power of story and the power inherent in our willingness to share our entire story with others. John Paul II was maybe the most transparent pope in history—he didn’t shirk public life even in his illness and injuries. He shared his story with the world. And, apparently, a large part of the world loved him for it and, maybe, got a little closer to God in the process.
Blessings this Easter season,