It was a bright sunny day, so I decided to walk the short distance from my hotel to the Vatican. To kill some time, I detoured on to a side street and found some dirty, scruffy boys playing futbol; their ball had seen better days decades ago but at least they were having fun. When I finally got back on the main drag, the Vatican was directly in front of me. As I passed through a security checkpoint I was reminded of the TSA pat down before I had left. Trying to compare the two was tough; similarities are what they are. When I reached the correct office, I was well received but told that the Pope was running behind and I should make myself comfortable. Finally, my guide escorted me into a well appointed dining room and there he was, the Pope, waiting for me. He said that he was happy to meet me and that I resembled Tom Hanks. I took that as a complement but I am better looking than Mr. Hanks. Then he muttered something about a Dan Brown, whoever he is. After some more genteel conversation, we sat down to eat. The only thing that I can think of that was NOT on the dining table was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In between mouthfuls, I asked the Pope many questions. Like, what are you and the Church doing about hunger? About homelessness? About ignorance? About the exploding world population? There were more questions, but the answer to all of them was the same: a smile and a nod of the head that went this way or that. I thought that I was lunching with a bobble-head doll. When the coffee was finished, the Pope rose from his chair and then I knew that it was time for me to leave. My escort-guide, like a pre-set alarm clock, was immediately present to take me back to the public areas. But before I left, the Pope put his hands on my shoulders and said, " God bless us, everyone." Well, that's what I think he said. My walk back to my hotel took me past the same boys who earlier were playing futbol. But this time they were not having any fun. This time the boys were tired and very hungry. Those boys had no where to go - the streets were their home. I bought them bread, cheese, and milk; their thanks was abundant. When I left those boys, in the shadows of the Vatican, I had one burning thought in my head. It takes a lot more than some god's blessing, given by a man, to solve a problem. Words, after all, are just empty vessels until action is applied to make them happen.
Author's Note: This post is fiction, a bit of wishful thinking. I have more important things to do than have brunch with the Pope.
Copyright @2012 Terry Unger