Sweet Smell of Roses

Early in the morning on one of my first days at Aid to Women, I opened the back door from our second-floor kitchen. With the front windows also open, I was hoping to create a cross-breeze to reduce the hot, humid air. My immediate effect was to scatter a flock of starlings.

I sipped my morning coffee and anticipated the day ahead. Always open to a new crisis by way of the phone or the stairs, I considered the people I already knew to expect: those who would come to witness outside; to seek help; and, blessedly, to assist.

And then someone unexpected caught my eye. Downstairs and over the back fence, she was an attractive, middle-aged blonde, scattering birdseed from a carefully folded bag. When she was finished, she still had enough left for a couple more distributions before she would need to re-stock. Her customers were not small and brown, but large and grey. Pigeons.

Now some urbanites regard this type of bird with disdain – calling them “flying rats.” Others admire both the hens and the cocks for the extra nurturance they provide their little ones, even though the very young are less-than-cute.

Anyway, the care and feeding of pigeons is not a common pre-occupation over on this side of the fence. Nor does it seem to be high on the totem pole across the street, in the Regent Park social housing development.

Apparently, though, it was a priority for this particular staffer at the Cabbagetown Women’s Clinic. And I can readily see the fragile beauty in this woman. If only her misplaced maternal instinct and her attention to detail were to be re-directed towards the most vulnerable humans in our midst, a lot of good would result. But the transition away from the abortion trap is daunting.

My neighbours are Dr. Manole Buruiana and his staff, including but not limited to Elizabeth, Mariana and Tess. I mention the names so that you can pray more specifically – and to encourage you to lift up in prayer their counterparts at your own local abortion facility.

My neighbours offer abortions at up to 23 weeks’ gestational age in their apparently renovated, sterile (in both senses of the word) facility. Their website explains that their porch is staffed specifically to keep folks coming to their facility instead of Aid to Women. And if any of my neighbours would like to come in for coffee, they are as welcome here as any other visitor in crisis, just as other crisis pregnancy centres – whether or not they happen to be located right next to abortion facilities – would happily welcome those involved in abortion into their own premises.

We know that providers’ conversions are entirely possible – and are more efficient, as it were, than the choice for life made by any individual mom. Those who have stopped participating in abortion sometimes recall what it was like to be on the verge. Pro-lifers’ prayers and friendship – not condemnation – have helped them find a new path.

Sometimes we may find it hard to pray for those who practise abortion. We may find it relatively easy to pray for unborn children, their parents and families, as well as CPC staff, volunteers, donors and benefactors. We must absolutely continue with these intentions. But we can’t stop there. We aren’t asked to pray only for those whom we consider easy to love. We must also pray for those most in need and for those who have no one else to pray for them.

We may be tempted to separate ourselves from “them” –  from those who continue, for now, in the destructive killing of unborn babies. We would do well to admit our aversion to abortion providers’ actions and then proceed with mercy anyway. We can’t forget that these doctors, nurses, assistants and security personnel often had help getting to where they are today; they are often in need of tremendous inner healing for what was first perpetrated upon them. We can’t forget that our society simultaneously requires abortion “services” and scapegoats the professionals. We can’t forget that we, too, killed Christ.

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, we ask mercy on ourselves and on the whole world, including on that other universe, right next door.