I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel that day, but He said go, so I like the others who had already been going and saving mamas and babies, set out to a hostile and foreign place. I had already been there, but a quarter of a century had passed since then, and the thought of returning had never entered my mind until He said “go. ” He’s like that you know? He makes us return to those ancient ruins in order to show us He is the Rebuilder and Redeemer and Restorer of all those years chewed up and devoured by the locusts. Still, this place, Lord? This was a place I’d hoped no one would ever know I had once visited. This was a place buried under years of forgotten, shame-shackled, and pushed into corners covered by miles of self-preservation, and an unwillingness to share…as if it never happened…as if I never made the conscious choice. There were parts I wanted left out of the story, but I kept forgetting I wasn’t the author of my story, God was, and what I wanted to stay hidden in the darkest corners of my past, He said, needed to come into the light, because He was at work then, and that even the darkness was not dark to Him and He had done a glorious and wondrous work there….in my blackest. And so on that day, the day He said “go,” He grabbed my trembling hand and steadied the racing beats held in by ribs, and together we walked into the Planned Parenthood adjacent parking lot.
As I began to ask the Lord what He wanted me to write about, he said there were places we would have to return, because He had always been there and we would face them together. I asked Him that I might be a good steward of my words. To help people see Him in all the mess of life we create, each one of us in tangled stories of sin and forgiveness….grace interrupitng…in our turning and running.
And then I saw her. She was just there front and center as if she had been there hours in advance to set up camp for the army who would come. All nine or so decades of her, all in, on that day. She was wrinkled with the passing of merciless age and creased with kindness. The pressing, bumping, space invading crowds, the scorn of hostility from the PP, these weren’t enough to keep her at a distance. No, on this day she would not be found safe at home surrounded by the friendly familiar. There was no waiting to hear second-hand what her Lord told her to walk into that day all dressed up in battle attire. So she went, all of her twisted joints, ache of gospel-worn feet with thousands of miles of compassion and obedience, and the slowness of decades behind a life. This could be her last one, and so she wrapped fingers twisted with arthritis around that strong familiar Hand of her First Love and went. There was a mass of beating red, strong that day, conceiving of prayer and birthed through faithful lips. She was the one I would see when I returned to an abortion clinic. When I saw her, her lips moved like Hannah’s, and our eyes never met, for hers were closed, hands folded in prayer, undisturbed to the thousands surrounding her. Her prayers seemed to form invisible cradles for the ones without cribs on that day, and they rocked those being unraveled in the building next to us as they fell into hands of Holy. She didn’t just stand in the gap that day, she laid down a bridge of self over the gulf between life and death. When I saw this frail and mighty servant of Jesus, my eyes spilled in gratitude, overwhelmed with love, victory, sadness…in remembering. .
How long, Lord? How long has she been praying? I wondered. Since Roe verses Wade? Had she prayed for me when You roared in and rescued me and the life forming in my deep from inside the walls of an abortion clinic all those years ago? How many babies have been saved in accordance of your will that carried her prayer? Had she waged a mighty war on Roe verses Wade? Here stood a battered warrior of prayer, unafraid to stand in the center of a protest of over four thousand people.
And so we sang and we prayed and next to me was a woman holding her adult daughter, the one who had just one more chromosome, celebrating her life, because all lives matter and we all bear His image… and the first nucleus of a cell is reflected in all of us through Him. They were here together because on the day of her birth God danced. He danced when they said “she has Down Syndrome,” and she said, “she has my eyes.” He leaped when they said, “special needs,” and she said “I need her to show me more of Jesus.” He let out a shout when they said, “it will be hard,” and she said “the hard way through Christ softens me.” I had kin here. The next generation, young marrieds with toddlers and swelling tummy’s with babies still safe. Blacks, Asians, Whites….a family of wild color reflecting an Image. We came to say lives matter. We came to learn how to partner with the One who saves lives because His blood ran down wood sticky and warm and we tasted it and lived.
This wasn’t the time to wonder why Catholics believe what they do, or Baptists preach what they preach, or the Reformed try and reform them all, or Charismatics show us what they feel, this was a family standing on kingdom ground in unity….together. These were my kin, brothers and sisters I would one day stand next to again crushing the broken rubble of shattered denominations under our feet, when we really believe there is neither Jew nor Greek .
And so I went, because blood ran down a cross. Because the grave is empty. Because Christ roared in and rescued me from abortion and made me remember… I made a choice, and though I needed to repent of making that choice, He delighted in granting me unimaginable kindness and mercy that day. I went because its time for me to keep going and standing in that gulf bridging it with prayer like her. And maybe real cradles will rock live children if I keep going.