The Holiest Spot on Earth

An article in the most recent issue of Time Magazine describes the newest front in the seemingly never-ending abortion war in the United States: “crisis pregnancy centers,” clinics run by pro-life groups that aim to dissuade women from getting abortions. Pro-choice advocates argue that these clinics subtly pressure women to forego abortions, and that they don’t give women the accurate information they need to make an informed choice. Pro-life advocates counter that it’s groups like Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics that don’t give accurate information, because they have a vested interest in performing abortions. And so the controversy rages on.

A Course in Miracles has nothing to say about abortion, and that’s not what I’ll be writing about here. Instead, I want to report a remarkable extension of olive branches in the midst of the abortion war. The article tells the story of a woman named Lorrie (she withheld her full name for protection), who performs abortions at a clinic in Asheville, North Carolina. She and her staff, like abortion providers everywhere, were being harassed by pro-life activists. The clinic got an envelope claiming to contain anthrax. A newsletter was sent to Lorrie’s neighbors with her picture and a caption reading, “This woman is a killer and she lives in your neighborhood.” Nurse-midwife Bonnie Frontino, who works at the clinic, found “Wanted” posters with her picture on them posted all over her neighborhood.

Lorrie felt like she needed to take action, so she contacted Jeff Hutchinson, the senior pastor of the conservative Christian church she knew the leader of the harassers attended. She said, “I don’t think you know what this member of your congregation is doing, but it’s not Christian.” Hutchinson agreed to bring some church members to meet with her and other clinic workers at a place called the Blue Moon cafe. Their choice of this particular spot was a bit of whimsy; they figured an actual conversation between the two sides of this debate might happen “only once in a blue moon.”

Well, it turned out to be more than once in a blue moon. Frontino had been apprehensive before the first meeting, but was amazed at what actually transpired: “I thought they might be really defensive or judgmental. The first word out of their mouths was to ask our forgiveness that they hadn’t dealt with this sooner. I think we were all surprised.” The harassing congregant eventually left the church, but the group found their meetings so rewarding that they decided to keep them going—it has now been five years. They now talk about ways abortions can be reduced, a goal both sides share. They talk about the importance of providing women with accurate information on abortion, instead of skewing it for the sake of your agenda. But more important than the specific agreements they have come to on the abortion issue is the simple fact that they now see each other in a whole new way—not as “cartoon villains,” but as real people who have more in common than they ever realized before. The article sums it up this way:

Against all odds, they are now good friends….No one wanted to stop meeting, because they had found a larger mission. Now they were out to show how people who disagree violently can debate civilly, even lovingly, and find some common ground. They know they won’t change one another’s core beliefs, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t changed.

This is the kind of transformation that A Course in Miracles aims to bring about. Through walking its path, we learn how to look past the “cartoon villains” that populate our lives and see who they really are: beautiful beings with whom we share a common bond, wholly worthy of friendship and love. The Course sums up the essence of its message in this achingly beautiful line: “The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love” (T-26.IX.6:1). I’d say that one of those holy spots is the Blue Moon cafe. And if people on opposite sides of the ancient hatred that has fueled the abortion war can find a present love, why can’t all of us?

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

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