Don't you just hate waiting? At the doctor's office, maybe the train station or DMV, we all have appointments or other waiting times that leaves us with little to do but wait — and read.
Anywhere people are waiting, there's usually a table or two with a bunch of magazines on top. Folks sitting around waiting will often pick up anything available to flip through. Especially after they've finished anything of interest on their phone, they could pick up a four-year-old issue of Sports Illustrated or Better Homes & Gardens.
This is where I do some of my best evangelizing. For years when I've read something really great, easy to understand, concise and with a countercultural point, it seemed a waste to just toss it. I wanted to share the insight, the better way, the research — the good news! Of course I could share this book or that publication or pamphlet with friends, or leave it at church for someone else to pick up. But not wanting to just "preach to the choir" I started leaving Catholic "stuff" around wherever people were forced to sit and wait.
I finish reading Tidings magazine. It's got some good articles on forgiveness, prayer, and finding God's will. I put it in my car. Looking over my bookshelves I come across an old copy of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, and a book by Fulton Sheen. I've read these and they certainly aren't benefitting anyone sitting on my shelf. They go in the car too. I read an excellent pamphlet on the strong link between abortion and breast cancer, and order 50 copies. This week when I'm in a doctor's waiting room, I can leave some of the pamphlets and maybe the magazine too. The newsletters from the crisis pregnancy center near me, from the Divine mercy apostolate, the Catholic League, the American Life League, and other fabulous organizations — all too good to throw out. In the car they go, to be left here and there around town for a captive audience: people stuck in waiting rooms.
Once while waiting unfortunately, in a courthouse, I left some brochures from the local crisis pregnancy centers on the table. A few minutes later a man picked one up and turned to the person sitting with him and said, "Look at this place. They help young women who are thinking about an abortion....." Sometime maybe they'll know someone who could use this help, or maybe their niece will have a crib she's looking to get rid of, and they'll think of us. Pro-life non-profits like this can't afford to pay for advertising and this is one simple way of increasing awareness.
Not long ago I picked up a big box of Catholic books at an estate sale. Some I haven't gotten to yet, but several I'd already read, about Padre Pio, the Catechism, and more. These will be appropriate for the back of the church or parish center. Publications from groups working against pornography, such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, or speaking out for religious freedom such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, are so important and so informative, I never throw out a single issue. I like to leave fliers and magnets for Relevant Radio too, all Catholic programming.
I've been giving out my copies of the National Catholic Register for years. I usually leave the latest issue by my front door and whoever stops by is offered it. Sometimes I leave it in the lunchroom where I work.
Not everyone gets as many publications as I do but we all have something spiritually inspiring, or something that can help our culture, that we can pass on. Waiting isn't quite as bad when you're helping in this small way to change hearts and minds.
A couple of years ago my then teenage son said to me, "How come when I'm in other kids' moms' cars, they don't have all these papers and magazines and books?"
I replied half jokingly, "They're just not normal, sweetheart. All we can do is pray for them."