By the time this reaches you, we will be a good two months into living alongside the COVID-19 epidemic that has gripped our world. Like every sphere of society, the sidewalk at our state’s only abortion facility has shifted as this pandemic continues to pursue its victims.
My own confronting of this virus happened earlier than some. Even as many of my friends were still saying the coronavirus was akin to the flu and would pass by nearly unnoticed, I already had seen and believed evidence to the contrary.
Because of this, on March 11, just hours before President Trump announced an international travel ban, I slipped into the adoration chapel at St. Mary’s Cathedral and prayed for our world. My sons were about to board a bus bound for Phoenix for a Shanley High School Fine Arts Tour, and I, to follow them en route by plane the next day.
At this point, in-country travel was not yet banned, but people were growing nervous. I knew the window was closing, but with one son recently relocated to Arizona and the other two on their way, my mother heart moved forward in the planned direction.
Only minutes before boarding, however, I learned someone on my flight had recently returned from Rome. Though there was no indication of exposure, this put me in an immediate mindset of needing to ponder the real implications. And so, when I returned, I took extra precautions. One of them was to remove myself from sidewalk ministry to wait things out.
The week before our trip, I’d gathered for a social with other sidewalk advocates committed to this cause, and together, we’d said one of the most heartfelt prayers possible for all involved in the heart-wrenching business of abortion. The last thing I wanted to do was part ways, just as we were beginning to bond more deeply.
Many did continue to show up on the sidewalk, absolutely committed to the cause despite increasing warnings to stay home. I struggled with this, knowing that it might seem I’d grown weak in faith. And yet, in prayer, and in my heart, every indication was that my family needed me now more than the sidewalk.
This pandemic has been a good time for all of us to review our priorities. Our two college daughters have been home, trying to figure out how to move forward, and our two highschool sons have been doing the same. Our three middle children have all been laid off from their food-industry jobs. And while I remain steadfast in my commitment to bring an end to abortion in our state, praying from home has helped me see that even in our limitations, God will find ways to use us. It’s been a reminder too, that we need to be in constant discernment regarding God’s will.
God has given me a zeal for sidewalk ministry, but he has given me an even greater zeal to be a worthy wife and mother. These roles must take precedence. As my husband, who works in an essential field, has been heading into the front lines of this battle every day, someone needed to be the heart of our home. Here I am, Lord.
One of our pastor friends who comes to the sidewalk regularly shared a Scripture passage from Proverbs 22:3, repeated in 27:12, to encourage me: “The astute see an evil and hide, while the naïve continue on and pay the penalty.” I shared in turn one from Isaiah 26:20: “Go, my people, enter your chambers and close the doors behind you; Hide yourselves for a brief moment, until the wrath is past.” I have complied with restrictions with the idea they would be temporary but anticipate rejoining my fellow sidewalk advocates soon.
Sadly, abortion has persisted, even as the pandemic removed us from regular daily activities and worship of God. It’s been a confusing and often frustrating time. I don’t regret my chance to refocus and tend to those right in front of me, while making an earnest appeal to the God of life, who holds us all in his hands.
At the same time, I’m grieved that through all the changes we’ve experienced communally, the killing of innocent life did not pause. Our governor did not use this opportunity to halt what you and I know is not only not an essential business, but one that has participated with the virus in seeking to destroy.
As we move forward in the weeks to come, may we pray together with greater fervor than ever, “Give us this day our daily bread… and deliver us from evil. Amen.
[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 May 2020 issue.]