Editor’s Note: Salina Hunt attends St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste. Marie and finished second in the Fr. Ted Colleton Essay contest co-sponsored by Niagara Region Right to Life and The Interim.
A tree stands tall, shaking off the last snow of winter as the sun kisses it with warmth. The trunk grows straight and firm, the outward manifestation of the many roots holding it steady. Thick branches shoot off from the trunk, with countless tiny buds just beginning to bloom all over the tree. Winter is over, and the tree is moving into a new season of hope and growth.
This tree can be a representation of the pro-life movement in Canada today. The roots of the tree that hold it steady and strong are the many organization and pro-life events: Life Chain, Crossroads, The Interim, and marches for life, among many others. The trunk represents the countless supporters who attend the events and who are the face of the pro-life movement. The trunk also symbolizes the people who are simply a peaceful witness to the sanctity of life in their day-to-day actions. Those people who change the course of a person’s life through a mere word or gesture. The branches are the ones affected by both the organizations and the people who make them up: mothers and fathers who decide against abortion, students who look more deeply into the issue, and all who see the injustice lying behind the media and society. These people cause widespread awareness and respect, in turn affecting others who are considering or have considered abortion to be a viable option. The tiny buds are the innocent lives saved through the efforts of pro-life people all across the country and the world. Finally, the sun that causes the tree to grow and flourish is Christ. Without Christ, the pro-life movement would wither and die, or would never have arisen. Christ inspires change where it is needed, and provides nourishment when there is good that must continue to grow.
Some of the good that has been established and is thriving are events like March for Life and Life Chain. The numbers at National March for Life each year have been increasing. According to Campaign Life Coalition, last year’s march was the largest yet, with a record 15,300 people in attendance. This is definitely a sign of hope. That root of the tree is steadily thickening, supporting the movement above it. Also, the 2011 LifeChain saw record numbers in many cities across Canada according to LifeSiteNews. More people seem to be coming out each year to stand and pray for a respect for life all across the country and the world. These increases in number show that there is much growth and improvement happening. There is also much change.
The pro-life movement has gone through many changes; it is developing and being altered as new ideas come into play and old ones fade to the background. Some may see these changes as a sign that the efforts are waning, or are not being as effective as they once were. However, change does not mean death. Change means that there are new opportunities.
Abby Johnson sees the change and evolution of the pro-life movement as a sign that it is flourishing and continuing to improve. It seems as though everything in the pro-life movement has changed, the people, the laws, the media perception… everything but the focus and the mission: to save and protect the life of every person, from conception to natural death. This is what matters. This goes beyond the form of the movement and the events and organizations that shape it. What matters are those buds on the tree. Those buds that promise a future full of hope and opportunity that have been protected through the efforts of the pro-life movement. Those innocent lives that have been given a chance to place their footprint on the world. Just because the direction of the branches have changed does not mean that fewer buds will blossom. The sun will always shine and give the warmth and strength needed to nourish the buds, just as Christ blesses the movement and gives the hope needed to continue in the efforts to save the unborn.
With Christ there is always cause for hope and optimism. At the heart of the pro-life movement are Christ and prayer. Section 1817 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks eloquently on hope. If the pro-life movement does not measure itself by the standards of this world, there is indeed cause for hope because our success does not depend on human strength; it depends on Christ’s promises and the grace of the Holy Spirit. If the dependence is on the divine, eternal and all-powerful, there is no cause for pessimism.
The pro-life movement is rooted in justice and Christ, and Christ is the ultimate victor. In Christ, there is hope and reason to be optimistic. Just as Psalm 1:3 says, “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all they do, they prosper.”