I’d been noticing something interesting for a few years now, and have even written about it here before, but recently, it came to my attention again by a newer sidewalk advocate who’d observed the same: that the vast majority of the homeless who wander near our state’s only abortion facility proclaim a strong, uninhibited stance against abortion.
From my unofficial estimate, based on personal observation, about 99 percent of the sidewalk drifters side with us. That’s factoring in only those not necessarily looking for money or a hand-out, but who pause as they walk past and utter their complaints against abortion, often boldly.
Even before this was brought to my attention by my prayer partner, I’d been thinking about why this might be.
The renewed prompting happened during the fall 40 Days for Life prayer campaign. I was standing away from the abortion facility door, on the west end of the sidewalk near a corner business off Broadway, talking to my cousin. Not far from us, one of the sidewalk advocates who writes positive chalk messages was hunched over and hard at work.
Just then, a homeless man sauntered over to my cousin and me and started to converse with us. At the same time, I noticed my chalking friend being approached by the owner of the nearby business. He was angry, and I could see she might need some backup.
I whispered to my cousin and the two of us walked toward my friend with the chalk to see if we might offer assistance; the homeless man followed and sat behind the three of us on a bench near where the conversation was happening, within earshot.
The businessman was, with great emotion, telling my chalking friend that every Wednesday afternoon, he has to have an employee waste time cleaning up the chalk messages in front of his store. It’s an unfair use of their time, he said, adding, “It doesn’t matter what side of this issue I’m on, either.” My cousin listened attentively and asked the business owner a few questions, trying to better understand his complaint. My chalking friend had a confused look on her face.
As the business owner stepped away temporarily, she said, “So he’s not okay with these positive messages but doesn’t seem troubled by the fact that babies are dying at the other end of this sidewalk?”
When he returned, the somewhat heated conversation continued, only to be interrupted by the homeless man, who said very insistently, a smile on his face: “I don’t know why you’re mad at them. You should be thanking them. These messages are probably drawing more people to your business!”
Like so many times before, the voice of a wanderer on the streets had broken through the din and illuminated the sidewalk in a way we couldn’t. As in other such moments, I felt God’s presence through this man, bringing clear truth precisely the moment we needed it.
I’ve heard too many messages from these drifters in the vicinity of our state’s only abortion facility on Wednesdays now to not believe their messages are of divine origin. Rather innocently, by simply uttering plain truth, these drifters bolster our cause.
How is it that these “homilies of the homeless” so profoundly pierce through the confusion of this corner? I’ve come to believe it’s that these “anawim” don’t have anything to hide. Lacking pretenses, they have nothing to prove. Unaffected by the modern world’s trappings, in their lack, clarity comes. They see life for what it is: precious beyond imagining and worth defending.
This homeless man made his defense with such pure genuineness, as if he held this great truth and that we all should absolutely believe it. While we stood there feeling ill-equipped to aptly appease this angry businessman, one of these “little people” slipped in to do it for us, with such ease and simplicity that it stunned and delighted me.
It’s true what Jesus says in the Bible, that the lowly can better hear, and respond to, his word. Their minds and hearts are not so convoluted by the world, allowing them to “see” in ways many cannot. And I’m becoming convinced that their “homilies” may be what help save us all in the end.
[Note: I write about my experiences on the sidewalk Downtown Fargo on Wednesday, the day abortions happen at our state’s only abortion facility, for New Earth magazine — the official news publication of the Fargo Diocese. I hope you find “Sidewalk Stories” helpful in understanding the truth about abortion and how it plays out tragically each week here in Fargo, N.D. The preceding ran in New Earth’s January 2020 issue.]