The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sink or swim, or walk as it were… (Part I)

From Today’s Gospel - Mt 14:22-33

Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

        I have a great little app on my phone that has all the daily readings so I can jump ahead to see what’s coming. I find it to be useful to refocus my mind when it’s starting to drift to parts unknown – or known but where it shouldn’t be going in the first place – or known and visited many times before only to my own detriment – or known and only visited as a means of self punishment for sins already forgiven. It always amazes me (because He is utterly amazing) that usually when I do this, the words on the screen speak to me so directly, so overtly and address so perfectly whatever assault of the mind I’m currently having.

        The Gospel for tomorrow is a familiar story (even to this Cradle Catholic) [Note to self: you said you were going to start actually reading the Bible cover to cover.] I’ve heard this gospel many times in my life but, overnight it took on new meaning for me. (Don’t you love it when that happens?) I have a lot of idle time this weekend which can be a blessing and a curse. Last night it was definitely a curse wrought with bad movies, a touch of insomnia and way too much time on the Internet. I read some really great things about prolife activism which unavoidably leads to really horrible things about prochoice activism. I could spends weeks on end responding to all those out there who disclaim the after effects of having had an abortion. I’d love to dissect the studies they refer to as proof that such effects don’t exist and that my current issues only exist because I had pre-existing issues before my abortion. I’d love to debate those out there who claim that abortion is good for women and a necessity or else back to the back alley we’ll go. I’d like to tell them that the horrors of the back alley abortions they thump their fists about are not too distant from the horror of having an abortion in a “legally approved” facility. No, I didn’t die from my abortion – not physically. But, Grace did die and part of me died with her. My youth died. My zest for life died. I walked out of that clinic a changed woman, a changed girl really, never to be the same again and it wasn’t just because I was no longer pregnant and my “problem” had been resolved. 

        So many prochoicers out there love to argue that prolifers don’t really want to help women in a crisis pregnancy. Are we going to adopt their baby? Will we give them money, shelter, food, diapers? I’d like to ask the prochoicers – what are you going to do for those women who you escort into and out of that abortion clinic? What are you offering to provide afterwards? Since you don’t believe there are any ill effects from having had their legally sanctioned abortion – I guess you aren’t there to help them through the years of darkness and despair, bring them back from the edge of suicide attempts, explain their ongoing sexual issues, help to manage the terror of being found out, the grief over the idea that the Holy Mother Church they love might now reject them. I have yet to see prochoicers offer up some post abortion healing and recovery. Maybe there are such people out there – but I doubt they are addressing the real problem.

        I was wrong in my thinking about my Church for a long time, even though I was kind of absolved of my abortion many years ago – I still lived in fear of eternal damnation. Even confession wasn’t going to save me. Today’s Gospel is a reminder of how wrong I was for far too long.

"Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

        It makes me chuckle a little over the idea of Jesus, standing on top of the stormy water, the Son of God holding out His hand to Peter and Peter seeing Jesus standing ON TOP of the water is still doubtful? What’s it going to take Peter, really? I wish I had that kind of proof! Peter had it right in front of him, literally, and he still doubted. And herein lies the good part – just a little faith is all you need sometimes to keep from drowning. Jesus will never let you drown as long as you have some little spark deep within you. 

        When I find myself going down the old roads to where I’m wondering if it’s all true, is it all real, why am I here, why do I write on this blog, why is the sky blue… that little flicker deep within just needs a bit of fanning to become a fire again. So now, I reach out for Jesus’ hand however I’m able. I pray, I write, I pester my Priest, I go to Mass, I go to adoration, I hug my children, I seek out my husband who knows just what I need and why.

        Most of the time I feel like I’m walking on the water, sometimes I feel like I’m walking in the water a bit with it sloshing around my ankles, but I’m not drowning. Perhaps sometimes we need to sink just enough as a reminder. Kind of like when little kids have swimming lessons – if you’ve ever seen the Plexiglas platforms that are submerged in the deep end, just as a precaution for new swimmers. The instructors let them thrash about a bit but then remind them – just put your feet down – and they can stand because of the invisible platform beneath their feet. It builds their confidence while they learn to swim better.

        When Peter cries out, “save me!” – is Jesus really saving him from drowning or saving him from his “little faith?” I think we all need that from time to time. I find that on my journey – I have those things that I know to be true, core, unshakable beliefs – but I also have doubts that nip at me, thoughts of despair that creep in, thoughts of the baby I allowed to be killed. At those times, when I’m falling back in love with the ghosts of my past – instead of the realities of my present – I hope that Grace is watching me and runs to our Lord and tells Him, please, help my Mom – and He appears once again, hand outstretched, to save me not from downing, but from myself.

Ivan Aivazovsky, 1888

1 comment:

  1. My friend, this is what I needed to read!

    Make today beautiful!

    Love and prayers,