It was rainy and windy in Austin Saturday morning, so we came to pray at the abortion clinic clad in galoshes and rain jackets. It was a slow morning.  My friend commented that it would be a “light” day because of the rain. I thought to myself, oh man, you just jinxed us. But surprisingly it remained uneventful throughout most of the morning.

Then came the ten o’clock hour. Evil was at now at hand.

A pregnant woman, who had come to the clinic alone, yelled and berated me profusely. The last thing she told me was that perhaps Satan gave her this baby. I told her that could not be because only God was the author of life. Exasperated with my existence, she ran up the stairs and into the clinic, not wanting to hear from me anymore. It was a bit unnerving and I was hoping for some time to gather myself but I saw that there was another couple sitting in their car so I made my way over to their general vicinity. My friend came up beside me to encourage me since I was a little shaken after my exchange with the young woman.

The couple I had approached began to exit their car and my friend asked me if she should take this one. I nodded yes. She understood that I needed time to re-group. What God understood was that I wasn’t strong enough to handle what would happen next. But my friend is. She is a braveheart.

The abortion clinic is a spiritual battleground, of this I am convinced. Ask any prayer volunteer or sidewalk counselor and he will tell you of feeling exhausted after praying outside a clinic. Evil makes itself known it myriad ways – the passerby who tells us we should have been aborted or the pro-choicer who deposits a big pile of dog feces where we pray. Sometimes, it says “here I am” via “You Suck” having been spray painted up and down the curb of the sidewalk where we pray. Yesterday it showed up disguised as a 6’3” male built for battle.

He steps out of the car with his petite girlfriend. My friend asked if she could talk to them before they entered the clinic. His response was to yell “#*x*$@* you” and “shut up you bleeping bleep.” He screamed like a mad man from the moment he left the car until he pulled his girlfriend into the abortion clinic. I prayed: St. Michael the archangel, defend us in this day of battle…

They went inside the clinic but very suddenly this very large man stormed back out of the clinic with a rage I have never seen before and hope to never see again. My friend was still near the fence, which borders the clinic’s property and the public right-of-way. He began to run down the stairs and across the parking lot. I was standing behind my friend with the other prayer volunteers, a few yards back. When I saw him approaching, I took a few steps forward, towards my friend, readying for, well, I wasn’t sure. I thought, like so many others before him, he would stay on THAT side of the fence. He would yell and persecute us from over THERE.

But yesterday wasn’t like any day before it. No, this time he ran across the parking lot and around the fence. We were all frightened beyond words, beyond action. I turned back to join the line of other prayer volunteers, hoping to take shelter in numbers and presuming my friend was following behind me. I turned around to find that she had not fled but was standing face to face with this hostile man. She looked up at him preparing to be hit and letting him continue his screaming. One of the prayer volunteers told him to calm down -that we were only here to pray. The man was enraged and only said you go ahead and call the police. “I’ll go to jail. I’ve been there before and don’t care if I go back.” I began to fumble for my phone. Why couldn’t I get to the keypad on this damn iPhone? Why was I back here and she up there alone? Why wasn’t I braver?

I dialed 9… oh what comes next? Yes, it’s a 1… and then before I could dial the final digit, he stormed off, back to the clinic. Gone, just like that. It was over.

My friend turned to me, I ran to her and we embraced. I was literally shaking with fear and while at first she was unbelievably calm, she ultimately began to cry. I hugged her, trying to find the right words, but none came. So we just stood there – without words, in the rain, shaking and crying. Until another car entered the parking lot. And another. No more time for tears.

takkat | @kberbel
"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." ~Flannery O'Connor