A day in the life, praying for the healing of life.
Twelve hour vigil in front of Planned Parenthood in McKinney TX
Do not reason with the unreasonable.
Mar 6, 2012
On Tuesday, Mar 6, for 12 hours, I prayed with many other Orthodox Christians in front of the McKinney Planned Parenthood in the “Orthodox Day” in the “40 Days for life, McKinney TX” prayer vigil.
Above is their original sign – currently “Express” is blanked out, because somebody must have realized that they should not advertise their business model so honestly.
The purpose of vigil in front of these houses of another currently legal, government promoted and funded “peculiar institution”, is, for me, the healing of all people touched by abortion, directly and indirectly – the mother, father, other children, other family members, abortion workers. I know others pray for the especially for the murdered innocents, but for me, their suffering is over.
With God being our helper, there were always at least two Orthodox Christians present at all hours, as we promised, and usually 3-8. Many other people came as well. Most people held signs; many Roman Catholics prayed the rosary. I prayed all the canonical Lenten hours at various times, with a litany at the end of each, with a “Prayer for the sanctity of life”, and the Orthodox “Pro-Life” Psalter. Many others prayed the Psalter, or the “Akathist for a Woman who has had an Abortion”, the Paraclesis to the Theotokos, or the Jesus prayer.
Twelve hours is a long time. As in most things in life, this time was large amounts of “space” punctuated with brief, important moments. Some of the moments were very intense, and at the time. I thought I wanted to save them somehow, but I am not too inspired right now, so it may not translate. Here goes.
I learned a lot during this vigil. I have been in front of Abortion clinics before – actual “surgical” clinics, when I was praying at the very same moment that pre-born lives and those who knew them were being dismembered, body and soul. This clinic only refers people for abortions, in addition to all the other services it offers as a fig leaf for their over three hundred million dollar a year abortion “services” business. Therefore, it was not as emotionally intense, because people were not dying in front of us on this day, but this clinic is still important to Planned Parenthood, because the profitable and busy Sherman TX clinic closed last year, when the director, Ramona Trevino, with the help, support and prayer of people during a “40 days for life” vigil outside that clinic left the clinic. Ramona sometimes speaks about the reality of the Planned Parenthood business. It is not what your average TV talking head or “Pro choice” politician says!
We live in a land of Euphemisms. Very little in the “Pro-choice” camp tells the actual truth. We do not have “Abortion Clinics” – we have “Women’s Services”, or perhaps “Surgical Centers”. They are actually “Shredding centers”, because they literally, in some procedures, shred a living child, and also shred the lives of those responsible for the death of that child. A Christian who is not benighted by politically correct “speak” knows this, and knows that the sin of abortion has a ripple effect that almost nobody wants to talk about it, but this elephant in the living room of peoples lives will never leave until it is cast out by repentance and healing, and when that happens, the scripture is truly fulfilled, they are free indeed!
This is the reason I pray in front of abortion facilities. They tell a big lie, and people believe the lie with their minds, but the soul knows. I am a pastor, and much more so than a doctor, I am sworn to heal.
We have a lot of work to do. A recent exchange with a Protestant pastor has shown me that people actually believe, somehow, that the bible supports a “woman’s right to choose”. I am convinced that the mind control of the media and our modern, hedonistic and lax society cannot be broken, except by prayer. The position that a woman has a right to choose to kill a child is not reasonable, but neither is it reasonable to naively believe that there are not significant numbers of women, who because of a multitude of environmental and spiritual factors actually feel that they have no choice in significant events and lifestyle choices in their life. Reason is not the reason people support abortion, so trying to reason with them is of limited utility. God only can deliver all of us from our unreasonable opinions.
I also will continue to speak about abortion (providing my sins do not cut me off from God giving me wisdom and courage), as a pastor, until I am put in prison. If I lived in Sweden, I would be there already. I am very aware that repentance is a process, and takes a lot of time. When the prodigal son “came to himself” it was after along period of sin and suffering. I am always aware that there may be somebody I am talking too who has a secret – maybe their secret is still even a secret from them – and I want that person to know that I offer them healing and understanding. If the reader has this secret, there are people who are safe, and will be honest with you, and will help you heal. You will need to make that call to begin the process. May God help you to do this!
I know all this stuff intuitively, and also from pastoral experience, and being a reasonably smart fellow, know that those who have been involved in abortion or who have never experienced it indirectly or directly, but have swallowed the lie broadcast on our TV sets every day have significant anger towards those who are pro life. They believe a mythology about pro-life people – they are “anti-choice”, misogynistic, do not care about women, will do nothing to help the mother who keeps her baby, etc. All these ridiculous, unfounded opinions one can easily glean from reading “Salon”, or a Newspaper, watching the nightly news, or even by reading supposedly Christian email forums and Facebook pages.
I know this stuff. No matter, I was amazed at the anger directed to us by drivers. It is always more intense when you experience something directly. We did not have any significant incidents, and the police never came as has happened in some cities, but nonetheless, they illustrated that there is a lot of pain, anger and misinformation out there in the big cruel world. Here are some of the moments in time, over a long day, that gave me an education.
Planned Parenthood opens at noon on Tuesday. The only traffic in the little strip mall between 7 and 9 as for a “DONUT” place. It was a little bit surreal, and sweetly sad seeing so many parents with excited little children walking into the shop, experiencing a little piece of the beauty of life, when a few doors down there was a place that nobody walks into or out of excited and full of joy.
Around 8, a woman leaving the parking lot drove quickly to a position just adjacent to us, but still in the forbidden (for us) territory of the parking lot, and, without leaving her car, took two pictures of me while I was standing facing a stand, saying one of the Lenten hours. I stopped and attempted to make eye contact, and waved – I think this is important – and since she was looking at me through her camera, I am pretty sure she saw me. There was no acknowledgment, and she drove off, without ever looking at me directly. Pretty weird. I guess I am on Facebook somewhere. That is “Seraphim”, like an angel, with a “ph”, not an “f”.
There was a bit of Keystone Cops comedy in the morning. The wind blew my diptychs all over the parking lot (these are names of parishioners and others I pray for and commemorate), and I ran into the parking lot, a kind of “no man’s land” buffer zone (and a place, where we would be considered trespassers if we stood to pray there), to grab the papers. It took a little while, and I was acutely aware that a Planned Parenthood worker was watching me from the window. I wanted to be friendly and wave to her, but I was afraid my gesture would be taking as provocative, so I kept my head down and scurried around. I was pleasantly surprised to never see the Police arrive.
One cannot absolutely discern this rude person’s motives or emotional state, but the other occurrences with drivers were less ambiguous. One cannot, of course, know motives, but it is easy to discern anger. The tone of voice, twisting of the face, obscenity – they are unmistakable. There are some people out there that are REALLY ANGRY when they see people praying quietly outside abortion clinics.
One woman saw us from a nearby intersection, and “flipped the bird” for an extended period, as she was stopped at a light and then as she turned away from us and headed down the road. This was the first experience. I cannot say that I understand why she is so angry. She may believe the PC lies, or be post abortive, or whatever. I get angry about stuff too, but I feel no need to give a one fingered salute to strangers on the highway.
The incidents increased in intensity. With one notable exception, every negative encounter with a driver was obscene. The F word was most popular, but the most amazing epithet was when a person screamed (in such a way that I felt chills) “you should have been abortions”. Wow.
The most intense interaction was from a man who did not swear and never raised his voice. He went out of his way to drive to close proximity to us (about where the camera lady was), and started talking to me. I do not know where he came from.
He started with the old “log in your own eye/ beam in someone else’s eye” bit. His tone was angry and pedantic, and he repeated himself several times, along these lines: ”I just want you people to know that before you start telling other people what to do, you had better make sure that there is nothing wrong in your life, and you are perfect”. The jist of it was that “you people” are judgmental Pharisees who try to force people to have do things against their will, according to your warped opinions.
After he went on a bit, and I became afraid that something very unpleasant was going to happen, because a few people were walking over to hear him, I agreed with him – “you are right, a person also must look to himself and his faults”, “But sir, I am not trying to tell anyone what to do today. I am only sitting here praying”. He did not like that simple answer, and started repeating himself, and I said: “Sir, right now the only person telling anybody what to do is you”. He repeated his accusation that we were hypocrites telling other people what to do, then drove off.
What was his motivation? What did he believe about us, and about me, since I was dressed as a priest? I felt like I had been assaulted by a hot dry wind. I don’t care about the things he said. He did not hurt me with his words, but my soul hurt because of his anger, and because I know that anger hurts his soul. I was very sad. I have learned that there is no reasonable response to the unreasonable., therefore, according to lessons I have learned much too late in life, I “prayed some ropes” for him, saying “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on ‘that guy’” I regretted that I did not know his name.
I did the same thing for the women who screamed that we should have been abortions.
The vast majority of interactions with motorists were positive – probably over 90%. Most honked and gave us a thumbs up, but not a few rolled down their windows to shout “God bless you”.
Our next day for Orthodox Christians to gather as a group for prayer is March 17, Saturday, form 7AM – 3 PM.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2012 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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