How does a light so lovely shine outside an abortion clinic? At a 40 Days for Life vigil, you are not there to devastate those who are already vulnerable and hurting, but it’s deeply disturbing to watch women going into the clinic knowing that many of them are there to end a pregnancy. The horror of abortion becomes very real, but so does the pain of everyone involved. Surprisingly, it's a humbling experience, one where you feel that you are not better than the people in the clinic. Instead, you might discover deep compassion and hurt for them along with an awareness of your own sins.
When we Orthodox go, sometimes we softly pray the Jesus Prayer with our prayer ropes. Other times, we read prayers from the Psalter or sing an Akathist. Praying at the clinic is so emotionally and spiritually heavy, the very pain of it opens your heart to feel a hint of the vast scope of God's love and mercy for us all.
Abortion clinics are places of despair and false hope. People think abortion will solve their problem and that afterwards they can pick their life back up where it was before, but a life has been created that is eternal and the impact of that life never goes away. Praying outside the clinic is a way to give reluctant women hope and a chance to change their mind. We pray for others to embark on path towards eventual healing. Our world is deeply impacted by people feeling lost, alone, and ashamed, but God's redemptive light can shine on them though our love and prayers.
Hosting a kick-off rally for 40 Days for Life was a very Orthodox thing to do. Celebrating the conception of Saint John the Baptist at our Vespers service was a beautiful reminder that the Orthodox recognizes that life begins at conception.