On this 20th day of remembering and honoring my son, I found myself standing next to a 20-year old young man at a peaceful prayer vigil this morning in front of an abortion clinic in Washington DC, on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The symbolism of all of this has so many layers, but I will focus on the young man, whose name is Sean.
I captured Sean’s prayerful shadow along with his rosary as we began our journey here this week leading us up to the March for Life on Wednesday. I am not Catholic, but I’m traveling with a mostly Catholic group. We agree and believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity of life, and so I was honored to be amongst them today and to witness their beautiful prayers.
One such prayer cut to my heart and brought me to tears because of my abortion choice 22 years ago. The prayer is titled, “The Litany for the Unborn.” It starts with a leader reciting one line at a time, “God, the Father of heaven. God the Son, Redeemer of the world. God, the Holy Spirit. Holy Trinity, One God.” And after each line the group repeats, “Have mercy on us.” Then it continues, and this is where it got tough for me. “For the unborn victims of anger,” and again the response, “Have mercy on us.” And here I will summarize the rest, “For the unborn victims of greed, pain, fear, pride, ignorance, shame, misery, poverty, sin, hatred, addiction, and sickness. . . Have mercy on us.”
I did not feel condemned by the group for praying these words. Rather, I felt sorrowful knowing with full force the truth of these words as I have experienced them. And how true as well that not only has God had mercy on me, but this group of life-affirming activists has also had mercy on me and accepted me to join in their ranks to fight for life after I had once been on the inside of a building just like this committing the very act we were praying would come to an end.
What’s even more beautiful is what I learned about the 20-year old young man when I showed him the picture I had taken of him. He was adopted as a baby! He wonders if his birth mom had at one time considered abortion. And this made me wonder if the prayers of even some of the long-time prayer warriors of 20, 30, and 40 years standing amidst our group were some of the actual prayerful voices calling up to God at the time that Sean’s mom was making her pregnancy plans and decisions. What an incredible opportunity to see generations of prayer warriors leading the next generation into the battle for life, while some of these new young warriors are some of the very answers to these prayers of decades ago. It’s wonderfully and beautifully mind boggling.
I could not have orchestrated placing myself in this city, on this special day, amongst such fierce warriors as these, standing on the front lines of the battlefield. It’s a privilege and I’m grateful to hear their stories and learn of their backgrounds.
As I review and reflect on Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, there are so many parallels that I could draw to our March for Life for which we gather here in Washington DC this week. But again, I will choose to focus only on one line, “Go back to [your home state] knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.” Well at the risk of sounding more like Dr. Seuss than Dr. King, that “somehow,” I believe, is truly a “SomeWho,” our Father, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit, Whom we prayed to this morning.