Wonderful Gifts

We met with Father Patrick last night at the end of which meeting Father gave me two items that he’d collected on his visit to Alaska earlier this year. He’d told me about the gifts earlier, shortly after he returned home, but I haven’t seen him outside of services (except for one meeting), and just kept forgetting to ask him about them. Last night I remembered.

Father Patrick was able to visit the grave of our American patron saint, Father Herman of Alaska. He took away from it a pine cone from right where the grave is located, and a stone from the beach where St. Herman would embark in his kayak out onto the open sea. I am grateful, and even more so that Father made a point to collect these things for me and our Father Deacon (who received his own relics). Of course, these items went immediately to our icon “corner” (our faux mantlepiece on the east wall of our apartment). They sit in front of my paper icon of St. Herman.

That’s what I love about Orthodoxy, the whole tangible reality of the faith. The sanctity of the spirit passes to the body and to those objects associated with the sanctified spirit. Oil in a vigil lamp burning at the grave site of the holy one itself becomes holy, itself partakes of the sanctification. A stone worn smooth by endless years of weather, against which it is just possible the kayak carrying St. Herman on his many adventures scraped is granted a foretaste of that for which it voiceless groans with all creation. The pine cone, nourished by the water drawn up from the earth which cradles the holy body of our Father Herman, drinks in that blessedness that only God gives.

And now these humble objects, otherwise overlooked and ignored, become “graced” and carry that grace to a small mantle in Chicago in a humble apartment of a small family.

Wonder. Full.

The Contradictions Aren’t Addressed

Have you seen the New York magazine’s article, The New Underground Abortion Railroad: Destination NYC? It’s meant to be a fluffy, warm-the-cockles-of-yer-liberal-progressive-heart story, a sort of abortion advocate pat-self-on-back memo, about a group of abortion advocates who provide overnight housing for girls and women seeking late-term abortions. But the contradictions come through in glaring technicolor.

Consider this paragraph giving a brief description of the group’s origins. Don’t miss that last sentence and its concluding parenthetical note:

Five years ago, Catherine Megill, a then-23-year-old counselor at a Manhattan abortion clinic, heard about a patient who couldn’t afford a hotel and was going to be sleeping on the street unless someone offered her a couch. Megill offered, and later she began asking friends to do the same. By mid-2001, her project had a name, Haven, and a half-dozen volunteers. It now has about 100 members and is the only group of its kind in the country. “You’ve heard of ‘armchair liberalism,’ ” goes the recruiting pitch. “But have you given any thought to ‘futon liberalism’?” Some 2,000 women have late-term abortions in New York City every year. This year, Haven members have opened their homes to 125 of them (including a 10-year-old).

Ten year old?! Late-term abortion?! Would this possibly involve a failure to report statutory rape? Perhaps someone did report the rape, and that’s why the little girl was there. The article doesn’t say anything more about it. But the article strongly gives the notion of a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy among Haven volunteers. It also gives the strong impression that most clients want anonymity and secrecy.

There are more contradictions.

Late-term abortion is serious, hard-core. At 24 weeks, a fetus is at the same stage of development as those gruesome images shown on pro-lifers’ protest placards. “The last woman I hosted showed me her sonogram,” says Jennifer, a 26-year-old host who lives in Carroll Gardens. “Then she pointed out that the fetus was a boy. God! I didn’t know what to say.”

Every once in a while, after hosting a guest, I have bad dreams about sick babies. I have to remind myself that my dreams are just dreams, and that they’re less important than my guests’ realities.

I can only guess that both these Haven volunteers’ reactions are nothing more than their consciences trying to force on their reason the reality of what is happening. The author of the article at least voluntarily stifles that stirring of conscience for rationalization.

She’s right about one thing, though. Late term abortion is serious business. As is all abortion. We would do well to explore and exploit these existential contradictions so that the light of truth can expose the evil act that abortion is.