Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Thankful Girl

You know the other day when I was all upset, and I went to that Mass near work and things got better? Well, going to that Mass was providential in more ways than one. At the end of the service, the priest announced that the next day's Mass would be followed by a rosary procession to the nearest Planned P-hood (or PP, if you will) clinic in the area, and a prayer vigil in front of it, to be followed by a happy hour at the CIC. Prayer + protesting PP + party? That is definitely my scene. (And how did you like THAT alliteration?)

So yesterday I left work right at 6 and walked to the PP to wait for the other protestors. Not wanting to linger in front of the PP, I stood at the end of the block, chatting with my mom on the phone until I noticed flashing lights from police motorcycles heralding the arrival of more than 50 people trailing behind the banner, "Pray to End Abortion." I happily pulled out my rosary and jumped in line.

Here is what we did: marched all over downtown DC singing hymns and praying. Knelt on the street in front of a PP clinic for the Sorrowful Mysteries. Stood at the fence right in front of the White House to pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It was one of the most powerful, spiritual experiences of my life.

Here is what I tried to do: Thank each and every cop for their service in shepherding our groups down the streets. Apologize when we blocked people from getting past. Smile and nod at every person staring at us, because you know what, that kind of joy can be contagious and can get them to join our side. There's nothing more satisfying than seeking out a person who is giving your group a look of bemusement or scorn, staring that person straight in the eyes, and smiling like the dickens at them. Those frowns turn upside down right fast and they begin to see, as Brother Chad would say, that our side has more joy. I call it my "apostolate of smiling" and it works.

Then we went back to the CIC for wine and fabulous snacks (you can always count on the CIC for that). The profiteroles alone were a revelation. I made a few new friends, including one who offered to help me move next week. One guy came up to me and said, "You're that girl who was thanking all the cops." I laughed and said, "Well I figure, why not make a few easy allies?" Cops and other working-class people are usually on our side already, so it makes sense to treat them like friends. For the rest of the night that guy kept calling me "the thankful girl." And you know what, I like that. I really do.

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