Welcome to Peace Garden Passage!
This past summer — over three months ago now — I wrote a post about the experience of praying on the sidewalk of North Dakota’s only abortion facility. I apologize if you came here expecting to find that essay verbatim. It was an honest impression about one day out on the sidewalk. But about a month or so ago, something changed downtown, and when I discovered this week (end of October) that the post was being revived and shared, I realized it needed an overhaul. I still have the original, but it’s no longer relevant for a couple reasons.
The first is that the escorts no longer wear yellow and black vests. About a month or so ago, they began wearing blue vests with the words “Pro-Choice Escort” emblazoned on the back. Thus, the wasp comparison from back in July no longer applies. And though it’s a side note, I do want to say that many of the prayer advocates I’ve talked to like the new vest color — sort of a deep, sky blue — a lot better than the old vests, which looked a lot like those many construction workers wear. Great choice, escorts!
But the second reason the former post no longer seems relevant is that I’ve noticed a lot of the escorts being friendlier these days. When I’ve approached the sidewalk in recent weeks, I’ve been greeted often with a smile from the folks in blue vests. I appreciate this new demeanor, and hope we can continue to exist there together peacefully.
Some of my post remains relevant, however. This piece, for example: “It’s natural for mothers to bond with their children, even when unplanned. Women know, instinctively, a baby, a human being — and nothing else — is growing inside them. No matter how much the abortion industry tries to minimize this reality to make the decision of abortion more palatable, at the end of the day, most mothers just know.”
This relates to something I recently learned; that scientists have discovered cells from a baby are retained by the mother throughout her earthly life. And in women who have lost babies through abortion or miscarriage (which I have), these cells are in even more abundance. I hope that if you’ve experienced either of these losses, you might find healing in this reality, knowing your baby is still with you in a real, physical sense. I know it has been healing for me to know that my baby, Gabriel, is still with me in that sense. If you are struggling with loss from an abortion, which sometimes comes delayed, please know there is help and hope here.
I’ve meandered a bit from the original post, but I think that’s okay. Blog posts are written in the moment, and while in that moment they may serve a useful purpose in sharing an account of a lived experience, some posts do grow stale after time. I think the wily wasps essay (which, for those who read my newspaper column, was in fact a blog post, never submitted as a newspaper piece) was such a post; one that had lived its purpose, but needed to be refreshed. It was written at the end of a very tense day and I wanted to try to articulate what it sometimes feels like out there. But throwing it around now, months later, seems a bit like tossing around a piece of stale bread and asking people to consume it.
The vests have changed, and with that, I hope the wasp analogy will buzz away forever. I hope that the prayer advocates and the escorts can find a way to share that space in as civil a way as possible. I hope that in some small way we might see our mutual humanity and realize that we all come to the sidewalk because we believe we are helping women, and I hope in time, the babies will be considered by all as well, because they matter, too.
In that old post, I had stated, “…I believe most of the wily wasps mean well. I would even go so far as to say some are fairly naive, even innocent. New wasps show up each week, and you can see the vulnerability in their faces. They are usually the ones who still smile at us, and seem to want to, on some level, be friends. They’re still taking it all in.” I’d also written, “We know that each soul out on that sidewalk has a reason for being there, and that some of their stories hold deep wounds.” Those are words that remain relevant today — the part of the bread you might say that will always retain its freshness.
I ended on a hopeful note then, which I will repeat now: “Someday, the scales will fall and the sidewalk will blossom with life all around. I look forward to that day, but until then, I pray.”
And I do, and will. Everyone reading this post now was given life, and your life is valuable, and even if we don’t agree on everything, I hope we can all agree on this: that without a doubt, you are loved. Your life has meaning and purpose. May that purpose be lived out for the good.
Peace be with you.
Roxane @ “Peace Garden Passage”