Kristin Van Spankeren is Pro-Life Wisconsin’s student intern on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. She wrote the following reflection after a recent sidewalk counseling encounter.
I’m not exactly sure how I ended up on this sidewalk. It’s 40 degrees, and my legs are shaking. The Friday sun is setting, and I should have fun plans with my friends. In between praying Glory Bes and Our Fathers, my stomach growls, and I dream about the warm dinner I could be eating. I stare at my feet, glued to a rather disheartening piece of cold concrete. This is not a normal college student activity, I tell myself. But then I hear a car speed around the corner. I pick up my head, force a smile, and ask the Holy Spirit to take over.
The car slows down, and the man in the driver’s seat rolls down the window just a hair. I walk toward the car and, with trembling hands, pull a pamphlet about fetal development out of my pocket. I widen my smile, make eye contact, and try to meet the couple before me with love.
“Hi my name is Kristin, and this is for you.”
My offer is quickly ignored. All I receive in return is an angry grimace from the man, and a sort of hopeless, longing, and disinterested gaze from the young woman next to him. He steps on the gas and speeds to a back corner spot of the Planned Parenthood parking lot.
My heart sinks into my stomach and I think I may vomit. The Hail Marys for the couple begin in my head immediately – my brain’s automatic reaction these days for a seemingly failed sidewalk counsel attempt.
However, a seasoned sidewalk counselor is used to days like these. This is not a failure, I remind myself. This is planting a seed of hope, of possibility. This may be the only tiny act of love their child might receive in this world. And no act of love is too small for God; no act of love is too small for this family. I keep praying, and fight the temptations of the devil –words that tell me this is worthless, that I should give up, and that I’m a crazy fool for standing out here in the cold.
In my prayer, I am reminded of St. John the Apostle – the patron saint of Vigil for Life, which is Pro-Life Wisconsin’s Dane County affiliate. St. John was present at the crucifixion of Christ. No, he wasn’t there to stop the killing of his Lord and his friend. But he was present. He loved Christ through and through and was a witness to His love and truth.
We, too, are witnesses to truth on the sidewalk, and we must persevere in love.