Stories from the Sidewalk
See how fierce our "war against women" is?? :-) Oh wait, these ARE women. Young ones. Hmmmmm.
Today is Day 16 of the Wilmington 40 Days for Life Fall campaign. I volunteered to document our forty days of fasting, prayer and community outreach but I have fallen behind. Partially this is because I get out there on the sidewalk at Planned Parenthood every day, and it is grueling work. Is that a surprise? Do you visualize a bunch of self-righteous, above-it-all busybodies haranguing already-stressed women? We experience quite a different scenario. We experience ourselves standing up for both women and children -- with equanimity and good spirits, but serious in demeanor, as is appropriate to the life and death choices being made.
The Stalwart Bullocks -- with Julie Easter behind Sue Bullock, and Lavon Robinson next to Julie.
No matter how many times clinicians use the word “procedure” to describe what goes on in abortion, we know that a human life is being snuffed out at the same time as it is undergoing the incredible, awe-inspiring changes that occur during early human development. We don’t stand out there on the sidewalk to sentimentalize the developing baby. It’s not yet in diapers. It’s not cooing or writing letters to its mom – we leave those conceits to the imagination, and to the poems, fictions, photography and drawings that mediate the humanity of the unborn through the senses and the arts.
No, we stand there praying for both the mothers and their babies.
Every woman has a story for why she is there. Our favorite stories are those that end with the “save” of a baby. My friend Julie Easter tells a story with a happy ending, from last week:
Hi everyone!I just wanted you all to know that we had a save today on St. Faustina's feast day! There was a long line waiting to get into the clinic this morning and Brandy was one of them. She said as she went in she could hear people (Deacon Bob and others) singing something....they were singing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy! She said that the song stuck in her head and she asked for an ultrasound. When she saw the baby she couldn't go through with it. Lorie Issel and I were there when she came out and told us this. We wanted to share it with all of you...our faithful prayer warriors! Please continue to pray for Brandy and her child. I asked her to please come back and witness to other women if she could and she said she really never wanted to see the place again (don't blame her). I said we'd really like to meet her baby too, some day. Lorie and I both hugged her and told her how happy we were that she had changed her mind. Thank you to all of you for your continued presence at Planned Parenthood. A life was saved today! Thanks be to God and to St. Faustina for her intercession!Great teamwork everyone!
Today, we had one story that ended with smiles and thank you’s, and another that ended with hugs and cries of thanksgiving.
Lorie and Pat saw an older gentleman go in with a teenage boy – “Big Stan” and “Little Stan.” Little Stan was seventeen years old. He and his dad were there to meet his pregnant, 17-year old girlfriend and her mom.Lorie and Pat talked to them both about alternatives to abortion. Big Stan told them that he had a daughter at home – Little Stan’s sister – who was very pro-life and who was praying up a storm that they wouldn’t go through with it.
“I’m pro-life myself,” said Big Stan. “But what are you going to do? They’re only seventeen!”
“We’ll pray for you,” Lorie and Pat promised. And they immediately began a Divine Mercy chaplet.
The young woman and her mom came in through the back door.Big Stan came out a couple of times to smoke a cigarette, but he didn’t want to talk more.
Two hours later, both Stans came out again. Big Stan threw up his hands.
“Well, you won!” he said. “They’re not going through with it.”
I thought he was angry, but then he smiled.
“What? What did you say,” we asked, and Little Stan started laughing and smiling. “We’re not going to do it!” (I noticed, as I have in the past, how it is exceptional for a PP client to use the word “abortion”, ever, and these two were no exception.)
Our 40 Days pray-ers gathered around and exchanged hugs, thanksgiving, and also information. We asked the Stans what kind of help they needed, and reviewed the various services they could get, at no cost, from the local pregnancy centers, from ultrasounds to pre-natal care to adoption services, to baby equipment, clothes, , etc. They were surprised at the range of resources, as folks often are.
Another story is of two young women who came in thinking that one of them might be pregnant. They didn’t stay long – they came out again in ten minutes, looking discouraged. Pat started talking with them and pretty soon it came up that they were looking to get an ultrasound. They didn’t say why they came out looking discouraged. Pat told them that A Door of Hope gives free ultrasound pregnancy testing. The Wilmington office is closed on Fridays, but the Newark office was open. The young women were from the Newark area. “I know just where that is!”, said the friend of the possibly pregnant woman. “I’m going to take her there right now!”
Church of the Holy Child with fearless Nancy FrickIf you look at our Fall schedule, it doesn’t seem as full as last Spring’s schedule. Looks are deceiving. Last time, we put in the names of each of the individual vigilers who came out to pray. This time, we include only the groups. We didn’t want folks to look at our schedule and think there were no open days. The response this campaign from individuals has been tremendous. We have many people who come every day or nearly every day. We have many folks who come as often as they can. Today, for example, we had no church scheduled at all. The day looked blank. Yet we had 25 people with us praying today!
I can’t end without mentioning Sister A.M. and Saul. Sister works at Friendship House and Emmanuel Dining Room. She gives out rosaries and rosary instruction booklets. She tells folks about 40 Days for Life and encourages them to come out to 7th and Shipley and pray the rosary with us. Sister recruited Saul a few days into the campaign. He has joined us for the rosary every day. He is talking now about getting back into the practice of the Faith, and often rolls in with a friend or two (being wheelchair bound).