Next Friday, January 25, is the March for Life. That's just three days after the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in the United States of America. An entire generation of unborn children has been in jeopardy. More than 50 million have been killed. Those who survived live in a culture infused with new "syndromes" -- Post Abortion Syndrome, Survivor Syndrome. What happens when we are born into a world where we know that we could have been unwanted just as much as the baby who should have been born only seconds after us? What happens when an enormous number of men and women are walking throughout the world carrying the burden of having aborted a child ... only to feel that they must hide their secret or celebrate it, because to admit that it was painful, that it is regretted, is to say, "There must be something wrong with me. Abortion is supposed to be the answer to women's freedom."
Our culture is turning more and and more individualistic as the "survivors" and the post-abortion men and women interact, each wanting to protect themselves. The survivors yearn to know that they are good, that they should exist, that life has meaning. The post-abortion men and women are tormented by the constant reminders of the children they prevented from living. And together we all grow more inward-focused, failing in generosity and in self-gift.
If this was the end of the story, it would be a devastating one. But the truth is that there is healing for those who have experienced abortion. And the truth is that the survivors of abortion are catching glimpses of the goodness of life and love, even amidst the fragility of these things.
If life is just about what we see, then there is no hope. But if we are able to receive the gifts of faith and hope, then we are transformed. Post-abortive men and women can attend healing programs (like this and this). Those born after 1973 can see that even if life is not held as sacred or as linked to love in our society, that each person is loved into existence by a God who is Love.
There are those who criticize the nature of the March for Life each January. Some say it should be silent and somber, commemorating millions of lives lost. Those who have marched before know that there are drums, bright T-shirts, smiles, singing and youthful energy. Is this inappropriate?
|A rainbow over the Supreme Court building at the end of the 2008 March|
While on the one hand, it is necessary, good and fitting to mourn for the millions of babies we will never meet this side of heaven, there is also something about the pro-life cause that can't help but be joyful. If we really believe that God loved us into existence, if we really begin to comprehend the meaning of life, then the songs and smiles and joyful reunions with friends are not inappropriate.
To be pro-life is to be against abortion and all means of artificially ending life, yes, but to be pro-life is also to be supportive of life! And life is linked with love. And love can't help but find joy.
When I'm marching for life next Friday afternoon, bundled in multiple layers, I plan to prayerfully remember and mourn for so many lives lost. I also plan to joyfully celebrate the gift of life. If it's not a gift and good, then it would not be an evil for the unknown unborn to not be with us.
Next Friday, I'll be taking a walk outside. A short distance, but a long adventure. Where will you be? It's not too late to plan a trip, pack the car, book a hotel and lend your voice, your feet, your life at the service of life, allowing your own life to witness to the joy of being created unique, unrepeatable and chosen by eternal Love (TOB 15:4).