Each year, a procession takes place downtown Fargo the first Sunday in October.
It starts at the Cathedral of St. Mary, then heads south and around to the street to the north of North Dakota’s only abortion facility.
It stops there for a while, a few prayers are prayed, a few songs sung, then processes on back to the cathedral.
I’ve known about this event but have never been able to take part. Last year, I was downtown with my daughter praying at said facility for the 40 Days for Life peaceful prayer vigil. All of a sudden, the procession appeared, and it was a powerful sight!
This year, my daughter invited me to go again, but also to take part in the procession. She ended up being scheduled to work so couldn’t join me, but I was set on going so my two youngest sons and I joined the throngs to take part in this prayerful act of life.
I think you have to be at a certain point in your faith journey to be comfortable standing up and out in this way, especially for a cause that is so controversial. But I’m there, and I’ve been there for a while, and I’ve come to realize it’s not enough to say I believe this or that. I have to show it by showing up.
But you can’t help but see the stares of the people who just happened to be there, downtown grabbing a mocha or a burger and, whoa, what’s this?
What are the flags about? The banner?
What’s the thing in the middle?
(Answer: Christ in the form of the Eucharistic host!)
What are all these people doing on a Sunday afternoon taking up all this space? Are they weird or what?
It’s challenging. It can challenge those who walk and are in the eye of scrutiny. It can challenge the onlookers. At one point, we were reciting the Our Father. A couple walked past and couldn’t stop staring. I’m sure they were trying to put two and two together. I know I would be if I’d been in their place.
And sometimes, you’ll find the protestors, protesting the silent procession. There were a few choice words pronounced, and a few sign-bearers who came out to make a statement against what we were doing. My guess is they were volunteers there on behalf of the abortion facility.
While we prayed in front of the facility, a small group of people were walking into the restaurant next door to get a burger and maybe a beer. Above them, a woman was hanging out a window snapping photos of us. I tried taking one of her- it seemed fair game and I like capturing reality as much as possible – but by then she’d already ducked away.
To take part in something like this means exposing oneself — one’s heart and soul. It means thinking, “We know you are looking, wondering, maybe scorning us. We accept that, just as Christ did when he was looked on with questioning eyes, sometimes with jeers. It’s okay.”
It’s not easy. There are moments when you feel vulnerable. Misunderstood. Mocked.
But if your soul has stood the test of time and come out the other side and decided that yes, this is what I’m about, I’m about life all the way; life for babies and their mamas; I’m in whole hog…then you just go.
Because once that decision has been made, there’s a freedom of soul that surpasses all else and makes any negative aspect tolerable. And there’s a determined passion, along with a deep-seated love, and a movement forward, and no yearning to turn back.
You can try, but once you’ve stepped into the light and discovered God’s beautiful and unconditional love, well, you just want to share it with others even if they misunderstand for right now. Who would want to retreat from love, after all?
Q4U: How about you?