I’m likely not alone in having found the riots in downtown Fargo on May 30 disturbingly surreal.
One of our daughters discovered a live feed of the activity on Facebook and shared the source. As we walked our dogs around our neighborhood that bright evening, we watched the unfolding events from our smartphones. How troubling to see what was happening just a few miles away.
Part of my own dismay came from seeing the most intense phase of the rioting taking place near our state’s only abortion facility where we sidewalk advocates pray every week to bring hope to those who arrive with conflicted, confused hearts.
We walked and watched on that beautiful, cloudless evening as members of the restless, angry, mob in our city’s center shattered windows of eateries next door to the Red River Women’s Clinic; the same restaurants where hungry people flock every Wednesday for burgers, beer, and tacos, just feet from where babies are mercilessly shredded on the second floor.
As broken pieces of glass poured out onto the sidewalk, the camera capturing the scene panned toward the abortion facility, capturing a rioter attempting to break the security camera that keeps watch on the sidewalk from inside the facility.
And then we heard it: “No! Wait! Stop!” It was a male voice, yelling at the person trying to harm the building. “This place helps women!” At these words, the vandal halted, saving the security camera and its attached building from the same destructive fate neighboring structures had experienced just minutes prior.
I wouldn’t have called for any of those businesses to be vandalized, nor would I have ordered the starting of the fire that now blazed in a large pot in the middle of the street, just feet away. But one could hardly miss what seemed to be an invisible ring of protection encircling the place. To those of us who see the spiritual warfare play out on this corner weekly, it was a chilling reminder that the Father of Lies has a strong hold here, as evidenced now in plain daylight. This building, this structure where so much destruction happens weekly within the hidden sanctuary of the womb, was being preserved for now.
A few weeks later, I thought of that reckless night when I was back in place, praying on the sidewalk. Weeks had gone by, but the nearby businesses were still completing clean-up efforts. You could see where windows had been replaced by new frames that stood out from the older ones as a reminder of that fateful night, which were followed by other, more peaceful protests at a nearby park.
I thought of all that had gone into constructing those buildings, the planning of every aspect, from the cash registers and menus to decorations on the walls. The fruits of years of thoughtfulness were destroyed in one fell swoop of anger gone awry. It would take weeks, even months, to recover and in some cases, years.
Then I thought of the babies who would die that day in that same spot. They, too, had been carefully planned, down to the last hair on their heads, in the silence of God’s own heart. The Father of Life had plotted each fingerprint and toenail, each dimple and eyelash, calling each finished work a masterpiece. Then, God assigned them each a unique mission of love, meant to unfold and refresh this tired earth in time.
But like the windows, the decor, and chairs of those businesses, in a moment of anger and hopelessness, each human creation had been destroyed in one fell swoop—by the cold, metal instruments and poisonous pills administered by an abortionist, paid to ensure these works of art would never have a chance to be gazed upon or bless others by their very existence.
These little ones, infinitely more valuable than the most expensive detail in any of those eateries, have been banished from earthly existence. We’ve been denied the chance to admire their exquisite perfection, for a decimated life whose heartbeat has been stilled by human hands cannot be revived.
“I praise you, for I am wonderfully made,” cries the psalmist in Psalms 139:14. Oh, Lord, we beg mercy on those who’ve been hurt by life, misunderstood your plan, and smashed your human masterpieces to bits. Though some of us see the truth, we all play a part. May we, through your grace, bring life more and more to this world gone mad.
[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 July-August 2020 issue.]