Tim calls most afternoons around 3:30, just after he gets off the bus from work, before he starts helping the staff with dinner. Our conversations go pretty much the same each time:
Hi Sis. Hello Tim! What are you doing? Nothing. How was work? Fine. What's for dinner? Chicken. What are you doing now? Watch TV.
We do this for four or five minutes, sometimes I tell a joke (knock-knocks are the best), and then I say Well, Buddy I have to go and he says Okay Sis I love you and I say it back and he calls again the next day to do it again.
I have thought of this a great deal lately in light of recent talks about Planned Parenthood and the national reminder of the abortion question. I have friends on both sides of this and for the most part, I understand both of their viewpoints, as frustrating as that may be for some. Like the refugee question and the welfare question and the gay question and many other questions, I find myself in a maze of complicated thoughts because these aren't really questions at all, but people, and people require more of us than blanket statements and ideological camps.
Thomas Merton, speaking about another issue, said:
"...there is something very unsatisfactory, something not quite true, about this whole moral question. This idea that it is important to take a "stand" as an individual. As if by mere gestures and statements one could satisfy conscience. And as if the satisfaction of one's conscience (emphasis on satisfaction) was the great thing. It can be a mere substitute for responsibility and love."
When a conversation about abortion comes up I am constantly thinking about my disabled brother, and my adopted son, and his drug-addicted, beaten birth mom, and the 13 year old foster sister who was trafficked out of foster care, and the women who used to walk the street a block from our house, and the "johns" who were arrested in the middle of the night and the way the police lights lit up our bedroom, and the men who use rape as a terror tactic, and the women who carry those babies and that shame, and the bloated white-washed politicians who despise the poor and make a mockery of justice and a practice of eliminating relief. Which blanket statement should I use for them? Which ideological camp will find room enough for them all?
Once a month, the foster home puts Tim on a bus and sends him to our house for the weekend. He plays video games, drinks as much coffee as we'll let him get away with, spends hours petting the dog (who adores him), eats all the cookies. And he laughs. About everything. Until we do too.
"It has brought me into the world of simple relationships, of fun and laughter. It has brought me back into my body, because people with disabilities do not delight in intellectual or abstract conversation....people with intellectual disabilities led me from a serious world into a world of celebration, presence and laughter: the world of the heart." ~ Jean Vanier, speaking of his work at L'arche
And so I have little to contribute to the discussion on abortion except this: God willing, I will resist injustice everywhere, in all its forms. I will never support war or greed or violence. I will vote for those who love and respect the poor. I will welcome all life however it comes, even when it is unexpected, even when it comes in the shape of a tragedy; but I will never presume to know what it is to walk in another woman's shoes or give her anything but grace and support.
Right on L'arche's home page, Jean Vanier says "The response to injustice is to share." And so I will share my love and support with my adopted son (and all my children), and I will share my prayers for his birth mother and her healing and remember all the broken women who are just like her, and I will share a few minutes and talk on the phone with my disabled brother, and I will tell him the same joke a thousand times, and I will invite him to my house, and make him meatloaf, and coffee, and give him all the cookies, and play dominoes, or video games, and together, we will share our laughter and make each other, maybe the world, a tiny bit better.