Was Tempted
Off the Wall, October 27,

Recently while looking out of my tower, also known as my bedroom window, I happened to observe an a young fellow and a girl maybe a year or two older than him come from around the corner at the Floral Fountain, on Ligonier St., heading to school, in all probability.

Even though I could not hear what he was saying to his sister, I could imagine his conversation to his sister, most likely. Just as they started walking toward the school did he notice a package on the steps of our neighbor’s house.

He stopped dead in his tracks, stood there for about fifteen seconds, looking at it. He then called to his sister who kept walking, turned to him saying something to the effect, “I’m going to school." See ‘ya.’”

It didn’t take long thereafter for his mind to go into action. He sprung forward, hastily stepping up one step after the other until he reached the top step where the package lay. A little voice within said to him, “Ring the door bell and hand it to the person who answers the door.”

Nothing happened. What resulted I didn’t see coming.

He then held it in his hands, first looking at it for several seconds, and then shaking it, holding it to his ear to listen for any moving contents. When he didn’t get gratification he yearned for, supposedly, he turned to his left, and clutching the box with both hands tossed it in the air toward a bush as though he was trying to swish a basketball through a hoop.

He then stepped carefully down the stairs, turned to the right as to head toward school.

But another little voice entered his thought process, and he stopped dead in his tracks, making a sharp right turn again. Standing there looking at the bush momentarily, he proceeded to step forward, reaching his hands through the brown stems until he touched the cardboard container, once again grasping it in his hands. Ever so carefully he slipped his fingers under its bottom and slowly maneuvered it upward straight above the plant and pulled it back against his person.

Turning right once again, he walked ten feet back to the walkway to the door as if he was on a mission. Turning left, he proceeded up the stairs and rang the doorbell once again. When no one answered, he placed the package down on the step, reversed his stance and scampered down the staircase, made a right hand turn and walked to school as though nothing had happened in due course between home and school.

Looking back at our childhoods, how many of us had similar experiences. I’ll confess I had many chances. But then, before I ever realized the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, did I think long and hard about items, but always decided against lifting anything from stores.

I recall one incident that comes to mind when I used to take the streetcar from Brookside Farms in Bethel Borough in the South Hills of Pittsburgh to Castle Shannon and back on Saturday mornings. I can’t remember if any of my friends accompanied me, but nevertheless, that was the routine. I loved to go into the G & C Murphy store and just browse.

There were toys galore. They were organized so perfectly, aisle after aisle. As I walked up to each, the table-type layout was approximately twenty by thirty inches long. As I leaned in to look over the items, my body rested upon my shoulders.

One afternoon, I learned in short order that I had over-extended my stay and was tossed out of the store and told never to come back again. I can’t help but think he must have thought I was getting ready for a big heist. Not this kid. It would have played on my conscience too much. As my sister would say, “It’s a pity I couldn’t return. He loved that place so much.”

There used to be a big field where the South Hills Mall now stands. My friend and I would often walk from one side to the other, sometimes not far from the golf driving range. Often, we would find golf balls in the field, and pick them up and cram them in our pockets. When my parents found out, they made me return them.

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” a passage from the Lord’s Prayer states. Great words of wisdom.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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