There is a garden where the collective unites,
Acting out betrayal,
Kissing the face of Christ, for a purse full of coins.
Here our rejection of life, on parade,
A morbid procession,
Darkness through day, never ending.
It is here that I hear his gentle whisper,
“Will you keep watch with me?”
“For just one hour, would you please?
Hold this heart so they can see,
A picture of my endless love.
A vision of amazing grace,
An invitation to leave this place, a way out,
I hang my head as I shamefully think, ‘Lord, for how long? 40 days? How much? How hard will it be? I am tired and they will only mock me. I am cold. I am busy. Must I really go there? Could I just pray in comfort from here, would you care? I know I’m weaker than those sleepy disciples in the hour of your greatest need.’
I say, “My bones they ache, my flesh is weak. But my spirit is eager this watch to keep, with you my King … you died for me.”
I enter the garden,
Eyes open, heart sings,
I labor to see Him giving birth to something,
I will write the story of how Fall 40 Days for Life 2015 stretched into the “Very Long Forty Days With a Sleepy Disciple” for me in future blog entries, but today I want to highlight the fact that I felt the Spirit’s prompting to come to pray after being invited.
16 years ago, I was invited (by my grandmother) to join the prolife community praying for the conversion of the local abortion providing doctor, something I continue to do. Many years after that I learned about local 40 Days for Life campaigns by spotting yard signs that would pop up around town and then disappear. When I finally connected the 40 Days dots, I participated by showing up to the peaceful prayer vigil, because I knew that the global church (of which I was a part) had been invited to pray and be present at the local abortion clinic.
During the Fall 2015 campaign I noticed an elderly man (I will call him Larry because he would like to remain unnamed) who came to pray at the clinic every Wednesday morning. When the campaign ended, Larry continued like clockwork to show up Wednesday mornings. I was curious what inspired his devotion to praying here. He was one of only two who showed up on the sidewalk faithfully to pray once every week (besides the sidewalk counseling ministry who owned the house next door). This devout Catholic and father of ten, grandfather of many more, had special permission to place a row of prolife signs on the edge of the ministries property by the road which was also the edge of the clinics front lawn. (He had gotten into quite a scuffle with the doctor’s wife over them the first time he put them up, but the legality of the placement prevailed.) When I got a chance to ask him why he came to pray, I did.
“Larry, how long have you been praying here every Wednesday?”
“Oh, about 15 years.”
“What inspired you to make this commitment to praying here? A lot of people won’t come down, even during 40 Days. It seems like it’s hard to find people willing to pray here. ”
“A woman from my church invited me. She used to come herself. She had a personal experience with abortion and I don’t know why she stopped coming. Maybe it became too hard for her.”
“So you have been coming faithfully for 15 years because someone shared their story and invited you?”
“Wow Larry. Just think, even though she can’t come anymore, the simple fact that she asked you to come has born so much fruit. Thank you for your faithful presence here. You inspire and encourage me.”
Yesterday was the first day of the Spring 2016 40 Days for Life campaign. Larry had a strange alarm clock malfunction which meant for the first time ever I arrived before Larry (about 7:40am). I watched as this seventy plus year old saint knelt on the frozen ground. Out of his trunk came a hammer and a small stake. He pounded it in carefully, clearing a path for the first sign posts. The sign reads “Praying for Mothers and Their Babies”. He continued installing all five signs. I felt the catch in my throat. How precious to witness the effort he has put forth all winter to speak the truth in love, even more, the effort he has put forth all these years. He has placed a down a deep stake in more than frozen dirt. It’s an absolute privilege to come alongside Larry here on the sidewalk for 40 Days.
I took a picture of some of Larry’s signs to share with you. I have one of him pounding in his stakes, but per his request I have to save that one for my personal collection. He said if you want to see him come on down on a Wednesday and join him in prayer. He’ll be there.
You are invited!
Blessings to you for LIFE on this 2nd day of the 40 Days campaign.