By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published September 20, 2021
I’ve often pondered what I’d do if I could travel back in time. I might return to the day before my mom’s death and give her an extra hug. Or I might head back to the afternoon my husband died while taking a walk, and beg him to stay home.
If I could only take one trip, I’d choose the day when I made a life-changing decision. I was in my thirties and teaching philosophy at the time, and although instructors are expected to present both sides of ethical issues, it didn’t take a mind reader to know my stance on abortion.
An atheist, I disdained anything related to God, so when I realized I was pregnant, I trotted out the arguments in my philosophy textbook, which attempted to justify the decision I would make.
Truth be told, I ended the pregnancy out of fear—fear of what my relatives would say, fear the father would feel pressured into marriage, fear of my life totally changing. And when I left the clinic after the procedure, I felt relieved, since I believed my problem was solved—but before long, relief turned into regret and sorrow.
Although I was a non-believer, I knew a human life had existed, which I had ended. Me, the one who wouldn’t kill the tiniest frog! Me, the one who avoided stepping on ants on the sidewalk!
If I could go back in time, I’d tell that younger version of me to put aside her fear. I’d remind her that her relatives would help out. I’d tell her the father loved her dearly and would propose in a few months. I’d implore her to keep the baby.
In my early forties, I left atheism behind. A feisty squirrel, a chattering bird, a splendid rose or a fancy butterfly made it impossible to see the world as the result of chance.
As Caryll Houselander writes: “From the universe we learn that God is infinite, that we cannot compass him at all. From such things as…little frogs, mice and flowers, we learn that…he is father, brother, child and friend!”
I finally returned to Catholicism, my childhood faith, and received God’s forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation. Still, nothing will ever erase the memory of that little being from my heart. For more than three decades, I have thought of that baby every single day.
Jesus wept when his beloved friend Lazarus died, even though he knew he would bring Lazarus back to life. How he must weep now, with every life taken, because he loves children!
The disciples discouraged children from going to Jesus, but he grew indignant and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” He then placed his hands on them and blessed them.
The child in the womb inhabits the kingdom of heaven in many ways. He is in a protected and nurturing place, where he can grow in silence and peace. The moment Mary bowed to God’s plan, Jesus entered this place of stillness and quiet.
This simple girl living in obscurity changed the course of human history forever. In truth, every woman who bears a child alters the world in countless ways. And, sadly, every child that isn’t born shakes up the universe too, in ways we can’t know.
The prophet Jeremiah writes: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
When I went to confession, I wept because I had destroyed that hopeful future for one of God’s beloved ones. I asked the priest, “What happened to that little soul?” and he said kindly: “God takes care of the little souls.”
Let’s pray that all the little souls will be welcomed into our splendid world of roses, butterflies and birds. Pray these babies can learn about Jesus Christ, and discover his loving plans.
Let’s pray their tender hearts will overflow with hope for the future. And pray that Jesus will rejoice and bless the babies, because in a miraculous way, they bring heaven to earth.