Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Voice in the Wilderness

Maybe you remember the song, The Sound of Silence, written by Paul Simon, performed by Simon and Garfunkel in the late sixties. The name of my website comes from a verse in the song:

“Fools,” said I, you do not know.
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed in the wells of silence.

I would like to share with you some of what it feels like to live and suffer in complete obscurity because of abortion. Will anyone hear it? I have serious doubts, but I am compelled to keep crying out anyway.

In 1979, my family and others who should have cared for me gave me one option to take care of an inconvenient pregnancy. The other option was to be homeless, pregnant, and barely sixteen years old.

Twenty-five years later, in spite of the pain, and the brand new suffering brought about by digging at my repressed memories, I started trying to heal myself by breaking my silence. I wrote my story for the Silent No More Awareness campaign. Inspired by reading it, my husband created a website on which to publish it. He also came up with a fund-raising idea that uses his business acumen to try to draw funds for pro-life efforts. This was an encouraging beginning.

So I continued my journey with hope that I could make a difference, save one child, save one woman from the most intense pain and guilt she will ever feel. I pray, in the most private moments of contemplative prayer, that the Lord will allow me to be crucified. The phrase, “Crucify me, Lord,” escapes the lips of my mind without my realizing it. But it is my wish. I ask, if it is His will, would He please make it all public – tell everyone that abortion doesn’t just kill the child, it mortally wounds the mother. Use me, Lord – put my suffering on a billboard for all of humanity to see.

With more prayer and more of God’s help, I could eventually tolerate watching Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, who used to turn me away with his graphic detail and fervor. I wrote to his group. I volunteered to write letters to the editor, and to do any other work for them they needed from my computer. I told them I have time, internet access, and a big mouth that they could use. I have watched his programs, particularly in the last weeks leading up to the election, and I hear him make request after request for help. I volunteered again, and again, and again, reiterating that I was already working on their behalf even though I had never heard from them about my efforts. I sent them copies of my letters to the editors for consideration and use if they want. I never asked for anything in return, but I did ask a couple of direct questions when I needed their expertise and received auto-replies instead of answers. Their auto-replies always include a request that I sign up to volunteer. They begged for help, I offered it, and no one heard.

I sent my story to the few family members I have left in this world. There has been no response from any of them. My husband let his, much larger, family in on it, directing them to the website, and explaining why he is also suddenly passionate about the issue. We “outed” me. Little to no response there, either, even though his sister used to volunteer in a pregnancy crisis center.

My husband has met already, and will continue to offer his help to, Virtue Media, to promote their efforts. But by the time he contacted them, they had already completed a commercial featuring post-abortive women who wanted to share their pain in order to prevent more suffering. They made the commercial in my own community – their offices are literally two blocks from my home. But I missed this opportunity to publicly denounce abortion as harmful to women.

I’ve written to everyone – pro-life people, newspapers across the nation, politicians, celebrities – letters, op-eds, pleas, questions – to no avail. I work hard, but no one acknowledges that I exist. I’ve written to the news programs, the talking heads who usually do more damage than anything else. I’ve touted the studies linking abortion and breast cancer. The results? Twice I’ve had a post published at EWTN’s Q&A by Judie Brown, but only because I supplied her with the appropriate text, saving her from having to repeat herself to the seemingly endless number of people who just don’t get it. (Judie Brown runs the American Life League – an excellent woman, website and operation). Still, I continued, thinking there is a way to be heard, to change hearts and minds. They don’t hear the unborn, so we have to show them the women. That’s my theory, anyway, but I didn’t realize it would be so hard – I cannot even make myself heard with the people who agree with me. What chance do I have with those who don’t?

I found “Jane Roe’s” website, and her legal appeal to have Roe v. Wade overturned. I printed out the forms to join the fight, and then found I was too late. I have no voice in the courts, either.

If anyone is listening, please correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t hear any coat-hanger-waving women shouting how proud they are of the abortions they had. I hear and see well-fed wealthy white women, who would never choose such an act for themselves, or who may never choose it for their daughters or granddaughters. They don’t have to, because they aren’t poor. But they are adamantly shouting for abortion as a solution for poor people who cannot afford their children. They are heard. Well, here am I, also a well-fed white woman, literate, well-spoken, well-educated, and a perfect example of post-abortion stress syndrome. I had the eating disorders, psychosomatic illnesses, substance abuse (alcohol), and suicidal, self-destructive behavior. I became a cutter in my thirties, and I have a map of scars on my body that show the pain and self-hatred I couldn’t verbalize. I can’t be heard over the hanger-wavers, because they are fat with money, and money is what gets attention. No one wants to look at the scars or the damage done to obscure poor women and children. No one listens.

I'm not dirt poor, not like most of the poor in our world, but poor, nevertheless, by most American standards. I never had children because I never had enough money. What I didn’t realize in my youth was that there was never going to be enough money, and this is the damage we do to men and women when we tell them they cannot have God’s greatest gift because they lack material means. Solely because we were poor, I was grievously harmed by my family. If we had had money, they could have sent me and my shame away. And if Roe v. Wade had never happened, I would not have had an abortion, and I would not have been grievously harmed by my government. My parents thought they were law-abiding citizens. There would not have been a back-alley abortion. But because it was legal, my unborn child and I were victimized.

My child was not inconvenient to me. He was not unloved or unwanted by me. I knew he was alive there, in my womb, and that he was a real person. I knew I wouldn’t be able to care for him, and I wanted to have him adopted, but no one listened to me. No one is listening to me now.

What about my parish, you might ask? Forget about it. I heard the word “abortion” in a sermon once in the last 14 months of faithful Sunday attendance, and that was from one of the retired priests who come to help us out in the winter months. My Bishop won’t withhold the Eucharist from public officials, and my priest personally told me he feels the same way. I do not receive Communion because I am not in a Sacramental marriage as the Church defines it. So I don’t profane our Lord. But famous people may not only profane His precious Body and Blood – they can publicly declare heresy. Of course I’ve been praying for them. I have joined the Oremus network, and I pray with them in obscurity every day. I’ve been faithful to that, with God’s help, and haven’t missed many prayers at all, even when I’ve been quite sick in the last eight weeks. I have also kept on writing in spite of this chronic illness, though it causes me great pain to sit at the computer for long hours. I offer God the pain, and I pray and pray it will be worth it.

My husband went to Mass with me recently. During Communion, I do not look around. I stay in my pew, trying to stay out of the way of those who are going by me to receive our Lord, and I reflect on my unworthiness. I am not even as blessed as the hemorrhagic woman, able to touch the hem of His garment. Instead, I pray to Our Mother. She is human, and she can take me by one hand, and hold His with her other hand. This is my only link to the grace of Jesus Christ. My husband looked around when everyone else was going to receive His most precious gift, and he told me later that we were the only ones who did not get in line. We have hundreds of attendees in one Mass. I admit I was flabbergasted.

I’ve been to Confession on Saturday afternoons – the only time it’s even offered – and there are fewer than twenty people who show up. Am I to believe the hundreds who received Communion last Sunday were in the appropriate state of grace? I seem to have been the only sinner in attendance. That may require notice to the Vatican, because something undoubtedly supernatural is happening in my church if all of these people are so without sin. It is particularly distressing to watch the wealthy and famous heretics partaking with seeming impunity (impunity in this world, at least).

I fight discouragement and even despair daily. After all, who am I? I am unworthy. That is probably exactly why I deserve to live in painful silence. So how can I complain to my parish priest that we never have an intercession for the unborn in the Liturgy? We pray for soldiers, we pray for the sick, we pray for the dead, we pray for world leaders. But we never pray for the unborn, even though there is a monument in the church yard to their souls. It is the closest to a grave marker that I have for my child, but it may as well not be there. There is only one Sunday left before the election, and they are not going to say anything about abortion at all, even if I write and ask them to. I am losing hope. I wrote to my Bishop to ask him why we are so ambiguous on the subject. I didn’t even get a form letter in reply.

This is what it is like to be a voice crying in the wilderness, I suppose. This is what it is like – writing letters to people you know will not hear you. If you who read this have an audience of any size, you have a voice, and I pray you use it and appreciate it. I pray with desperation to have a voice of my own. I prayed to have a voice when I was 16 and no one would let me do anything but submit to the murder of my child, and I am still praying for a voice 25 years later. The most likely end for me is to die in obscurity with all of my warnings and admonitions unheard, and all of my suffering and the suffering of my murdered child is for nothing.


At 3:11 PM, Blogger Coach said...

Yours is a powerful testimony against the heinious Roe vs. Wade decision and the scars that remain from a young girl's mistake. God forgives you, please forgive yourself. Stay the course and keep up your fight. People don't always answer your pleas, but they listen and are changed.

Just an old guy who cares, Keith

At 1:05 AM, Blogger a friend said...

Have you been to a Rachel's Vineyard retreat, or worked with a priest on Project Rachel?

Why do you say you cannot afford children because you are poor?

Pray to St Gerard for many of these things

At 9:02 PM, Blogger arls said...

i just wanted to let you know that i'll be praying for you. i admire your courage to speak out and remaining steadfast in your mission. i hope that you will experience God's healing and forgiveness, because he is giving it to you... he's a very merciful God. read the story of rahab at joshua in the old testament.


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