Lost & Found
Good Friday, April 6, 2012
It wasn’t supposed to be like this, you know. This place was once a place where children laughed, played, sang, napped and felt safe. One day something went terribly wrong; everything changed. There was a garden like that a long time ago. Two children laughed, played ,sang and lived happily in the presence of their Creator. And just like this former preschool, Something went terribly wrong. What was the common denominator—free will? sin? disobedience? I think in both situations we need to look no further than the common enemy of man. How do we recognize it? I will tell you how: By the lie that comes before it and death that follows closely at its heels.
Abortion is like that. The enemy tells us a lie, and death follows. In our case, we’re already against the ropes because of our proclivity to sin, and our darkened intellect brought on by the fall of our first parents. This is why we are so desperately in need of a savior. If we could only recognize Him as Emmanuel—God with us.
I want to tell you a story about a young girl who also believed the enemy’s lies. She didn’t recognize that Christ had been with her all along, even during the darkest parts of her story … but he was there. I think it’s only fitting that on this Good Friday, we pause at this place of death. Because, this ground on which we stand today, is another Calvary.
Her story goes like this:
“I was a junior at Michigan State University when I visited the Planned Parenthood clinic in 1987. The stunning confirmation of my crisis pregnancy was delivered to me while I stood in a hallway surrounded by strangers. It was a death sentence. Through hot, angry tears, I sobbed that I could NOT be pregnant. I would have no part of a baby-limited future. I was a good girl, from a good middle-class family and I had a promising future. I was supposed to BE somebody. The title “unwed mother” simply did not fit into my plan. I was in a disconnected panic. Confused, alone and unsupported I feared how I would deliver this news to my family & friends. I believed that I was out of options and running out of time. I reached out to a procedure that I thought could deaden the panic. Abortion was not the ideal, but it was a solution…an easy way out that could be kept secret. A choice.”
Christ received a death sentence, too. A carpenter’s life would have been much more palatable; or even street preaching for 3 more decades while staying out of the way of the authorities would have been an acceptable alternative. But crucifixion?? A mere drop of His blood would have been enough to save the universe. A crucifixion? I’m sure the title “convicted criminal” struck him as odd. But in the end, he was obedient to God and fulfilled his calling. He loved his cross. There was no procedure that would fix the terminal problem of death. “Not my will, but Thine be done”. Abandoned by his sleeping friends & sweating blood in a garden, he accepted the Father’s plan.
“A very attractive clinic employee clad in business attire reassured me that I need not feel afraid or guilty for choosing abortion. She herself had multiple abortions and was grateful for having the power to be able to control the size and spacing of her family. This was my final edification. A death sentence would prevail, but it wouldn’t be my life that would be surrendered. I chose my body, my plan and my convenience over his life.”
Unlike our girl, Christ was familiar with the oily lies. Not long before his torture and execution, he was led to the desert where he was tempted with power and earthly delights. “All this can be yours…. the angels will protect you….. just bow down to me….” hisses the enemy. The lies of abortion come from the same source. “why should you be troubled with an unwanted pregnancy….it’s just a blob of tissue…., nobody will know….., it’s perfectly legal… it’s your body, after all…., it’s a choice…., it’s healthcare…., it’s your right.”
“Numbed by twilight sedation, my conscience in self-inflicted exile, I allowed my accomplices – the abortionist and his nurse-witness – to rip from my uterus, my tiny, 10-week-old son. His small frame captured on ultrasound only a week earlier was now in pieces in a plastic container. The sights, sounds and smells of that day in January still haunt me. The images are as fresh today as they were 25 years ago.”
It was necessary that one must die. In Old Testament times the victims were animals like lambs, goats and heifers. When Christ came, he WAS the lamb. Why did Christ have to die? He wasn’t keeping the peace. He wasn’t staying in his square, all of this claiming-to-be-God business. That’s hate speech to a first century Jew. He has blasphemed by calling himself God. That baby in the womb is not keeping the peace either. It beckons for attention. It demands its own perfectly-appointed womb space. It blasphemes by reminding us that it is a human life, not a blob of tissue. It never keeps the peace in an abortion-bound woman’s mind. Never. That’s why she shows up here, angry, panic-stricken and in a big hurry. Somebody must die.
“There was no one around me to advocate for the life of my son; no one to speak for him, to break into his mother’s crisis of the moment. The choice didn’t really feel like a choice at all. I wasn’t choosing between Cheerios or Frosted Flakes. I was in a desperate place and I did what many, young, unsupported, college women do when faced with a desperate situation—I made an irrational, illogical and fatal decision for my child and I regret everything about that decision today.”
Our girl in the story knew this was a baby. She saw it with her own eyes on the ultrasound. Peter has a similar version: “I do not know the man”. Weeks earlier, he had been the only one who correctly identified Jesus as the Christ, the messiah. He saw, with his own eyes the transfiguration. He ate with him, traveled with him, clung to him. Yet he denied him at the crisis of the moment. Peter, too, came to regret everything about his choice that day.
Though the days and weeks following my abortion brought immediate relief; years of denial of my trauma and the life I took piled up like stones in the hands of vengeful zealots. Those stones might have easily been labeled with words such as shame, fear, anger, divorce, addiction, depression and self-loathing. I never thought that the stuff I was denying would have brought such debilitating emotional distress. I never thought it could have been connected to that January day in 1987. And I never thought it could be me, Karen Williams, because I was supposed to know better. You see, I am the girl in this story—this is my abortion testimony. I guess you could label me a living statistic, but thanks be to God, his grace, and people like you, my story does not end here.
Just like Mary Magdalene who recognized her savior as her face was planted in the dirt, stones aimed in her direction from a vicious crowd, so too, was I found. Like the lost sheep I had wandered far from the flock. I had no expectation of forgiveness or mercy. I was just ready to put my rocks down and come home. And come home I did. I converted to the Catholic church in 1996 and began a long journey of healing and reconciliation. I began to recognize myself as a forgiven and beloved daughter of Christ. I saw that he had always stood with me….even in my deepest agony. I saw how he took my pain and shame and bore it. While he was on the cross, I was on His mind. He paid the price that I could never pay. This is the unfathomable love of our Savior….that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins. While we were a long way off, he came running to us. ‘O happy fault, that won for us so great a redeemer’. Our current pope wisely asserts that people who have hope live differently. I am now truly free. And this freedom allows me, among other things, to witness to other men and women like myself who need to understand that there is great hope and healing for those who desire it. I live my life differently today, because I have hope; because I have Christ.
I am also the daughter of a loving Mother – the Blessed Mother who stands at the cross of Calvary and watches, as we watch, the same story that brought me here to you today. I know that she wants us to be at these places so that we can be a light to those who are still in darkness; so that we can keep vigil; so that we can prayerfully love them back into the truth. No matter what side of the pro-life argument you are on, we are all her children wrapped within her mantle of hope.
So why are we here today? This is Calvary. This is Good Friday.
So named because of our Victor-King who triumphed over death by going through death. Abortion is a serpent-ed lie delivered to a softened society by an ancient and common enemy. Our task is daunting. Please never be discouraged that your presence here is in vain. It is not. You are speaking the truth in love when you stand here and call upon our Lord and our Lady to have mercy on all the souls here…An Easter awaits us all - A bright sunshiny morning that comes in glory, radiantly breaking through the clouds. It’s like the prodigal, appearing over the brow of the hill who is spotted by a father who thought his son was long dead. My edited version of that story has a bit of a twist…the Father is bounding at lightning speed towards me with my son, Michael in his arms. We will be reunited someday. Like a carpenter’s son who loved , served, changed all of time and eternity and then was put to death and laid in a garden tomb…. It was’t supposed to end this way. And it doesn’t. Christ lives, and he is gathering his flock. Please continue the vigils. People’s hearts are changing. People are walking away from these places. People are rethinking the failure of love that abortion represents.…And we can be there for them, just like Christ is always present with us: The Emmanuel. God with us.
“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them”.