I’ve been trying to think of how to approach this for the past few days, and I’m failing. Crash and burn on all of my brainstorms. 🙂 But, then I realized: I studied journalism. I can just start with the story, right?
Last Friday my mom said to me, “Hey, do you want to pray outside of the abortion clinic tomorrow?”
So, I guess that sets the stage, doesn’t it?
The stage is this: I’ve been protesting abortion since I was a kiddo, since before I knew all of the gory (literally) details. My mom still prays in front of the clinics near our house, and I (occasionally) join her.
I thought that Saturday would be similar. I thought it would be her and I and maybe another person or two. Praying in front of an abortion clinic usually looks like this for me: I show up, the other volunteers approach me with literature, I assure them I’m not pregnant and just want to pray, too, and then we all pray silently. And sometimes people yell at us/ flip the bird. And other times people honk their horn in support. And, once an hour has passed, I leave. I usually pray through a couple of rosaries. That’s what it looks like. Done.
I told my mom I would meet her after mass, and rode my bike over to the Planned Parenthood after I was done praying.
And then I realized that I had assumed incorrectly. Instead of just my mom there were a COUPLE HUNDRED pro-lifers with their signs and what not.
Mentally I was like, “Yeah, pro-lifers!” and I parked my bike by a parking meter and crossed the street to meet them. Per the usual, someone had printed off extra signs, and they gave me one to hold. Per the usual, there were various ministers praying, so I joined them.
And, across the street, there were the pro-Planned Parenthood protesters. Protesting the protest, I guess.
Now, I realize there are people who are pro-abortion/ pro-choice. Welcome to America. And I believe that there should be places for dialogue and discussion as we work through tough, tough issues. And I know that, sure, some of the people on each side of the issue probably don’t listen enough or care for the people involved. I also know people on each side of the issue really, really care about women’s health and how to best express care.
So, sure, there were protesters. Again, welcome to America. Land of the free, home of the people who
flick off yell at the people they don’t agree with (we were on a busy road. Drivers also partook in the, um, “discussion.” (But you can tell the pro-lifers, because their gestures are more tame. Usually just a thumbs-down).) No big.
The speakers were really touching. One family, from the wealthy suburbs, talked about how their daughter was diagnosed with a handicapping abnormality and they were pushed to abort strongly–even when they expressed they would not choose to end her little life. The mother shared about her friend, a good wife and mother from inner-city Detroit, who went to the doctor, pregnant with her sixth child. Upon returning home from her appointment, she found her door plastered with flyers from Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood has never given me or any of my suburban friends flyers. How do they have the money and the funding and the manpower to do this in the inner-city?” asked the white, barrel-roll curls mom.
There was an afro-American woman from the inner-city who talked about her challenging inner-city experience. Raped at twelve and facing a pregnancy scare, she held strongly to the belief that women needed and deserved abortion…until her mother told her that, when the mother was nineteen, she, too, was raped. And, that rape resulted in this speaker’s life. She talked about how real, how personal the issue becomes when your life is on the line.
As far as rallies go: this one was a good one. It was a sunny day. There were a couple hundred people peacefully, prayerfully gathered. There were senior citizens. There were young professionals like me. There were families with multiple kids under the age of ten, with the kids running everywhere and climbing trees and stuff. There were all of the super sweet people with their tiny little pro-life non-profits like, “Are you aware of this new pregnancy center?” or “I have a new mom who needs some things–who can help with her needs?” So, yeah, good things.
And then the cops came. I’m not sure if someone called them or what, but they spoke with one of the organizers for some time. But, the protest was slated to end at 1:00 anyway, and we were about five minutes from that alarm.
1:00 hit, I took my sign back to the pile, crossed the street to my bike, and fastened on my helmet (because: SAFETY).
Right then, I saw a car unload on the median, where we had just been standing. And, as soon as I saw it I thought, “This looks like trouble.” A crew full of people (eight? twelve?) piled out and began walking towards where everyone was gathered. As they came closer, I began to have second thoughts. “Oh!” I thought, “I see Roman collars! They’re priests…Priest with misled kids? What?”
But then I realized: they weren’t priests. They were people dressed up like priests. Well, some of them were. There were a few young men dressed as priests, but their vestments were a bit askew and improper. There were young women as well, some of them in costumes. Most of the crew had dark eyeliner outlining their eyes, most of them were wearing dark, long clothes. And they were all carrying gallons of milk, but each jug had its cap removed.
They were walking pointedly, but nervously, too.
Kind of like–have you ever tried to catch a stray dog? Because I have. I’ve caught all kinds of stray dogs (to my mother’s chagrin. Her every time: “Oh, good. Take it to the animal shelter.”) Most of the strays I’ve caught are actually someone’s pet, and they act that way. They respond to words and know better than to snap, and get calm when patted gently. Others aren’t, and you need to be careful with those (or just steer clear).
Some dogs, though, are wounded somehow. Sometimes they’ve been hit by a car or cut by something sharp. Some wounded dogs still act like pets–whining and thumping their tails. Other wounded dogs, though, are wary of the world. They think that you, too, will attack them. And so they growl viciously and snarl and try to hurt you when you go to help them–they’re on edge and ready to fight.
And that is the closest comparison I can think of to compare this dark crew to, as they approached with their un-capped gallons of milk. They didn’t seem confident, but they did seem ready for trouble.
Now, the pro-life crowd comes in all races, shapes and sizes. I mentioned my mother was there, right? My mother and other mothers, too, mothers I’ve grown up with. I mentioned there were families there too, right? Mommies and daddies pushing and carrying lots of wiggly littles had shown up for the rally.
Now, last May I ran a half-marathon. I run most mornings. I had my bike, my legs, and I knew I could put serious distance between myself and this event, if the need arose. But not the seniors, you know? Not the babies.
So I stood on my bike until I saw my mom exit the crowd and I said, “Mom, we need to leave” because, for all of the things she does know, my mom’s street-smart skills could use some polishing.
So, we did leave. We left because I wasn’t sure what the Satanists (I realized they were Satanists) were going to do with all of that milk. I had also just read an article about a high-level Satanic priest who shared that they use blood in their rituals (in fact, there are sometimes rituals performed during abortions, apparently. So that Satanists can use the fetus or the mother’s blood in the ritual), and I wasn’t sure if anyone was about to get, um, cut. We left before they started their own Satanic ritual. We rode our bikes away, to the fabric store.
It was only later that I saw the footage.
You can google it, I’m sure. You’ve read here that I’m from Detroit and we were at Planned Parenthood and there was a Satanic ritual last Saturday. I’m sure you can type those words and see the images but, I don’t care to link to them.
Because all I can think about is the absurdity of it all. Satan, you guys? SATAN? The father of lies? The being who longs to destroy your soul? The one who desires your destruction above all else? That one?
And then: a Satanic ritual outside of an abortion clinic? Is anyone taking notes? Is this weird to anyone else?
I guess I usually live in two worlds–the Catholic one and the American one. In the American one I vote and wear the “I voted” sticker and pay taxes and drive on the roads and stuff. In the Catholic world, though, I know a bit more of the nitty-gritties. I’ve worked church all of my professional life. Most of my priest-friends (read: coworkers) have told me intense, scary stories about demonic activity they’ve had to pray people through. I’ve handled more phone calls asking for exorcisms than you would care to imagine.
Am I scared? Nah. I’m baptized. But, I am aware of the spiritual realm. It’s real and huge and, mostly, invisible.
And that’s, I guess, what threw me off so much about last weekend. Because political activism mostly falls in my “American, but Catholic” side, you know? The rally I went to had a set time and an organized place to stand and particular signs and a focused message–how American. Other people disagreeing? How American.
But. The Satanists. Performing a satanic ritual. Outside of an abortion clinic.
Suddenly: this was more. And, sure, I usually mutter through a rosary, and Social Justice causes are linked strongly to the belief that lives are of the utmost importance because, you know, God becoming flesh to die for all of the people even if they don’t observe all of the laws or sleep around or, even, are children or lepers or otherwise unmentionable/ unworthy/ unwhatever. But seeing the Satanists quickly propelled me into the, “OK, it’s time to pray to St. Michael right now” brand of Catholicism reserved for moments when you’re like, “Oh my. We need some light in this darkness. Stat.”
But do you know what I did not fifteen minutes later? I went fabric shopping. In a beautiful fabric store. I touched the fabrics, as I am wont to do, and cooed over them with my mom. I went to the library, to the Farmer’s market, made myself fresh food for lunch.
It was kind of like scrolling through a Facebook newsfeed. “Oh: a baby, a wedding, ooooh Katie got engaged, a child starving in Haiti, puppy video! Yay.”
Like, my life flashes so many distractions, so quickly, it’s hard to focus. And so much of life/ internet/ inspiration is reduced to sound bytes anyway.
So. In a sound byte moment of my life, the satanists protested outside of a Planned Parenthood.
And I don’t know what to do with this information. So, I have put it in a mental file titled, “satanic rituals” in the mental drawer titled, “Pro-life shenanigans” and I’m going to leave it there. I guess.
I wonder, too, if this is how a lot of people feel about abortion, anyway. Like, mostly, I never see abortion. Actually: I’ve never seen an abortion. I’ve seen images, though, of children who were aborted. I see them once in a while. But, it’s hard to look at them. So, mostly, I don’t look.
What if most people, though, just have a file marked “weird anti-abortion things I’ve heard/ seen” in their minds, and then all of the pro-life info we toss in their direction goes in there?
Well, I suppose that’s why places like Planned Parenthood continue to be government funded. I guess that’s why abortion stays legal, why women never have better options, why Detroit-mommies return home to have their doors covered in stickers like, “Hey yo, your baby isn’t worth as much as the white babies, why don’t you stop by a clinic so we can tear things apart a bit?”
But, I don’t know.
I’m just a girl with a pro-life sign, crying when I hear a daddy say, “And most handicapped girls like my daughter are never born,” and an afro-American minister say, “Lord, lift the dark clouds from my people,” and a raped-at-12 afro’ed lady saying, “I pray for them all. Jesus, I pray for them all. Lead us to truth and light.”
I’m no exorcist. I’m no all-star. I’m no preacher or activist or any of those things.
But, I will continue to pray. I will continue to support crisis pregnancy centers. I will continue to do the stupid little pro-life things that will never, ever impact policy or nation-wide attitudes or government funding. I will pray and act because children deserve better and women deserve better and daddies deserve better.
And when the satanists show up, somebody needs to call out to St. Michael.