"What if the world was already good?
What if what you seek, you find?
What if everything wasn’t an emergency?
What if we cared more about stories and less about labels?
What if we stopped shouting so we could listen?"
-Chrissy Kelly greatest mom, friend and writer
Her words put a lump in my throat. Our conversation helped me connect the dots today. So often on many issues, I feel like a fish out of water. I have friends that will join the protests, I have friends that are unabashedly pro life, and the thing I know most about all of them is that they are strong women with fierce value systems that rose out of their stories. The last thing I would do is judge or base our friendship on what they think about a woman’s right to choose. But why am I afraid to open my mouth and say what I think? The evolved me answers that question that real issues deserve thought and care, not instant outrage.
If you judge by social media, which I wouldn’t suggest, the masses are not muffled. They are loud and angry on one side and virtuously gloating on the other. They recite strawman arguments and incite fear on both sides. There isn’t a leader in sight who is tempered, compassionate, and direct about what happened with this ruling. This ruling did not make abortion illegal. It denied that abortion is a Constitutional right and turned it back to the states to decide on a state by state basis what the law will be. I live in California, I’m confident that nothing will change as far as access to abortion where I live.
I am a Catholic mom of four who has been a mom since I was 25. Being a mom was the first thing I knew without a doubt I was good at. Today, I can confidently say I wouldn’t have an abortion. That’s not saying a lot given I have a roof over my head, know myself on a deep level, and understand what it feels like to be a mom. It’s the most deeply held love in my world. I can’t say that had I ended up pregnant in my teens or early twenties I would have been so strong. I only had one time when I had to contemplate that thought, sitting at Stanford Medical Center at 21, sick with a kidney infection and waiting for the ER staff to return with my routine pregnancy test, scared out of my perfectionist mind and deeply ashamed. I have never forgotten that hour that felt like an eternity. The relief I felt when it came back negative was overwhelming, I wasn’t ready, but I was human and I’m grateful that I wasn’t faced with that choice at that point in my life. I’ve talked to friends of mine who were in that position and had abortions, others who had the baby and put her up for adoption, and more that had the baby and kept her. When I hear their stories, I feel nothing but compassion and love for the human condition and the choices that they were faced with at that pivotal and tender time in their lives. None of them were rich, all of them were scared, and whatever their choice was has become a part of the fabric of their life and who they are. For me, it only took that one time to learn where I didn’t want to be. I also know that when we have a deep wound, we will seek connection with other people in ways that aren’t born from real love. How can we connect and care for others before we reach these moments of desperation? If we don’t, will they happen over and over again.
Last weekend in Nashville, where I met more new friends that don’t think exactly like I do, I picked up a Maya Angelou book, Letters to My Daughter and read the whole thing on the flight home. Her books are things I can never resist. She was a rebel, an intellectual, artist, and above all, the greatest example I have seen of someone that transcended suffering and mere survival with grace to realize her fullest potential in her lifetime. She passed her generational wisdom on to others with the gift of her writing. Her only son, who recently passed in February, was born after one encounter with a man she didn't love. She stood for the human race and against injustice but was never a victim confined by her circumstances. I’m sure that if the world had the grace and courage of Maya, this country would be different from the place we find ourselves today. She had the courage to speak to transcend power structures and reach people in a way the government never can. I don’t think she would yell and kick and scream and wear shirts with the word vagina on them. But I do think she would smile at the woman who did, and listen to her story with the calm dignity of a woman who knows the power she wields in this world. She is my answer to the question:
“If you could have dinner with anyone throughout history who would it be?”
More than her writing, which is flat out genius, her life story is the epitome of resilience.
As I wrap my head around where we find ourselves today, everything in me says that we can create a society that connects with kindness and empathy instead of fear and judgment. We would raise stronger, happier, more well adjusted humans who know how to care and connect, not just in the moments when our foundations are shaken, but in the simple quiet moments that unite our hearts and minds instead of focusing on what makes worldly power and profit. With our culture today, we can’t see those moments, or our own resilience and strength, when we work from our own place of lack and insecurity. No matter what side, that is what I saw all over the news and social media after this verdict and I wrestled with my thoughts and words all day long.
When a women is faced with the choice to have an abortion, which is still possible in America this morning, whatever she chooses will leave it’s imprint. I’m not upset that it isn’t so available that it can happen without careful thought about the implications of what it means to both the mother’s and baby's lives. It’s not just the body, but her mind and spirit that needs to be cared for. As a woman, I will always be available to listen with love and lack of judgment. Ultimately only she can find peace with her choice. In that spirit, my hope is that she is met with compassion from all women who have walked the road before her so that she can embrace the power she has within her, which is far greater than anything the government can ever give or take away. That is the real sisterhood, and no matter what you believe as a woman, you are part of it.
With love & optimism,