When the little girl first arrived with her mama on the sidewalk where we were praying, she was clutching a bag of fruit snacks. She stopped to eat them, grabbing them with her chubby fingers, her eyes, blue as the sky, her wispy hair golden as flax. We smiled, watching her tap her purple rubber rain boots into the small puddles that had formed as a result of the light sprinkling.
At some point, though, she needed to rest her little legs, so her mama began spreading out her small pink blankie there on the sidewalk, just in front of the building where we were standing, the place where abortions happen every Wednesday.
In response to our increased prayerful presence of late, the facility had begged for reinforcement, asking on their Facebook page for more volunteer escorts to shield the women seeking abortion from us. The tension was heightened. The escorts seemed extra purposeful as they strutted past us, flanking the women, whom we were praying for, and if possible, speaking words of hope to.
As the mama spread out the pink blankie smooth, the lead escort, the one who is always there — the young lady, “J,” with the beautiful blue eyes and freckles but all-too-stern expression — turned abruptly and said, “You can’t put that there. It’s against the law.” She then rattled off something about placing articles in front of a place of business. “Well sure I can,” the mother said, and proceeded to plop her daughter on the blanket. The little girl sat there, quiet and cross-legged, finishing her half-eaten snack, with her little dolly and a few other toys nearby.
Would the police come to drag away the little girl and her mama, I wondered? Had they broken the law? We knew we weren’t to touch the building. We knew we weren’t to step foot on the green rug in between the windows. We knew we were being closely watched through cameras hooked into the facility’s upper floor, where the “clinic” is situated. But it had always been legal for us to take up a post on the sidewalk. We’d come with our umbrellas and purses and signs before. And yet the little pink blankie was an affront somehow?
I shared this with a friend, and she shared with me a story in turn. A few years back, a local priest had received a visit from local police. They had acquired a statue and wondered if the priest would have use for it. When the priest received the statue, it was in a box — a box that had been mangled up like crazy. When he finally was able to pull out the statue, it was a statue of the holy family.
He learned then that the statue had been sent to the abortuary, and they had assumed it was a bomb or something of that nature, so using proper protocol to investigate the possibly dangerous contents, the package went through the ringer. And at the end of all that, what they found inside was the least threatening thing of all — a likeness of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and his parents. They didn’t want a thing to do with it.
“Why are they afraid of the family?” my friend asked. “What is it about that little girl and her pink blankie that threatens them?”
That’s my question, too. And it’s a deep question; a question that could garner a variety of answers, depending on whom you are asking. I will simply share my emotional response to what I witnessed that day on the sidewalk. Seeing the escort yelling at a mother, there with her child, telling her she was being unlawful, when all the mother was doing was finding a place for her beautiful little girl to rest for a while, brought on all kinds of “this isn’t right” feelings. Something is wrong with this picture, and it touches on something troubling about where we’re at, if we can turn on the mother and the baby, and feel justified, feel righteous, feel like we are saving the world.
The little girl with the pink blankie stands for something. She stands for peace. She stands for love. She stands for innocence. She stands for the things we are lacking and have turned from, but need so desperately.
The little girl with the pink blankie can teach us something. I will never stop thinking of her.
Q4U: What does she teach you?