Monday, October 26, 2009

Armed But Not Dangerous

A few reflections I had while praying at Planned Parenthood this morning:

Planned Parenthood's maple tree leaves have black spots on them, about the size of a quarter. I couldn't help but think of Long John Silver's wrath when he found someone had dared to tear a page out of the Bible and put a black spot on it... Of course, lots of maple trees around have black spots on them, but I didn't notice any others before I saw them at the abortuary.

The maple tree closest to the sidewalk is starting to lose its leaves. I noticed a bird's nest high up in its branches--now revealed because the foliage that hid it is disappearing. A few feet below the nest something else is revealed: a paper hornet nest the size of a basketball is just over the sidewalk about three feet above the heads of anyone pacing and praying there...

I had a close encounter of the civil kind with a staff person at Planned Parenthood today. I recognized the man right away from an incident several months ago. It was just after the abortionist Tiller had been murdered, and since it was a first Friday, I had my time slot to pray outside the PP facility. With the national news making headlines about that event foremost in my mind, I warily arrived at the clinic and began my usual pacing back and forth between their yellow lines, praying my rosary. At a certain point this man, who could pass for Santa Claus if he grew his white beard a little longer, came out of the building, got into his car, and drove off. Not five minutes later he was back. Instead of going into the parking lot he drove around the circle closest to the building and then backed his car up onto the curb and parked. He was positioned so that as he sat behind the steering wheel he could stare straight at me. It was intimidation, I'm sure. I stared back and continued to pray, hoping that his intentions were only to keep an eye on me. It was a bit unnerving, but I finished out my hour and then left.

Today, the same man arrived and parked in the same place. However, he didn't just sit and stare. This time he got and out began to examine the perimeter of the PP building. Once he circled the building he began walking towards me. I continue to pace, but stopped as it was clear he was coming my way with me on his mind. When he got to the yellow line, he began to clear the fallen leaves off it with his foot. I said hello, and informed him that I was aware of the line and would respect it. He answered me very civilly, and although I couldn't pick up everything he was saying, the gist of it was clearly about the line. I told him I would write a note and leave it with our materials to let other volunteers know that they were wanting us to not cross the line. Then the encounter was over.

It felt odd. Clearly here was a person actively involved in an evil industry, and I just had a polite chat with him. When he was approaching me I had been walking with my hands in my pockets to keep them warm from the chill. We were both wary. Did he think I was armed? The thought certainly crossed my mind about him. And was I armed? I thought so. I was fingering my rosary: a weapon of Mass construction in my pocket.

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