My faith teaches me that God speaks in every human heart.  No one person has a monopoly on truth; rather, each of us has the responsibility to listen for the still, small voice, within.

And so when an individual or a couple comes to me for counselling around an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy, my role is not to judge or condemn, but to support them in discerning what to do.  Let’s be honest:  often, all three options are tragic and difficult.  People need to be held in love and encouraged to make the decision that is right for them.

I am so grateful for Planned Parenthood.  Firstly, the health care they provide means that these difficult situations are rarer.  Secondly, they walk with people regardless of which of the three paths they choose. Thirdly, they support the long term health of all women with cancer screenings and reproductive health care.

The current campaign to discredit Planned Parenthood is riddled with factual mistakes and inconsistencies.  Abortion accounts for less than 4% of the work Planned Parenthood does, and not a single tax dollar goes to paying for it.  Nor is donating fetal tissue for research purposes “selling body parts.”

I support the right of other religious leaders to have their own opinions, beliefs and perspectives.  However, it’s wrong to impose those beliefs on the entire population.  Closing Planned Parenthood would do a great deal of harm and very limited good.  Abortion would not go away; women’s access to a safe and survivable abortion would be severely compromised.

This is a difficult and complicated issue. Regardless of where people stand, I pray for civil discourse and mutual respect.  As for me,

I Stand with Planned Parenthood.

Broken Hearts are Messy

August 10, 2015

I’ve said before that change and progress on Big Complex Issues require letting our hearts break.  This is true of stopping climate change; to find our way forward, we need to feel and learn from the heartbreak of looking at our beautiful planet and acknowledging all the damage that has been done.  It’s also true of eradicating racism.  The reality of our history- that this country was built on the bodies of Native Americans and African slaves- is beyond heartbreaking.  The reality of our present is equally difficult to swallow. Yet we must take it in, must be present to this heart-breaking reality, if we are to have a hope of finding our way to wholeness.

Taking it in breaks our hearts, and broken hearts hurt.  Our reluctance to feel pain all too often keeps us from facing reality.  We numb ourselves.  We build homes in denial instead of just using it as it is meant to be used- a way station on our way to deeper acceptance and greater wisdom.

This week, though, we’re being reminded that not only does that necessary heartbreak hurt, it makes a godawful mess.  When we are feeling those difficult feelings, we can’t always access our best and most graceful communication techniques.  We can’t always maintain open minds and hearts when our hearts are in pieces on the ground at our feet.  We can’t always avoid trampling on or rolling over pieces of other people’s hearts when they’re all over the place, like legos after a kindergarten play date.

This is why we need to try to be gentle, kind, and forgiving with friends who are having a hard time on this heartbreak-and-healing journey.  Like the people who are responding with anger and defensiveness to the action at Bernie Sander’s rally in Seattle last week.  Like the people who committed acts of violence in Ferguson last night.  Like me.  Like all of us.

At the same time, we need to hold ourselves and one another accountable; it’s not fair to ask other people to clean up our broken-heart messes.  We need to be patient; if we tidy everything up too quickly, we compromise our ability to learn from the mess.  We need to be aware of privilege, need to remember that the ability to live in denial is a privilege in and of itself.  People who are living in black or brown skin can’t take even short breaks in the imaginary land of “we are a post-racial society.”

No one said it would be easy.  Progress has never been a smooth, straight path.  Can we let the bumps in the road be just bumps- and not turn them into mountains?  Can we let the unexpected twists and turns be part of the adventure, not proof that we don’t know where we’re going?  Can we let the mess be…messy?

The other thing I like to say is that when we let our hearts break, and then heal, they will be bigger and stronger and more resilient.  This has been my experience.  When I’m brave enough to feel the fullness of the grief, despair, and pain, on the other side of the feelings I’ve found peace, acceptance, and a willingness to change.  While my ego longs for tidiness and control, my soul longs for justice, and the only way to get there is to embrace the pain and the messiness of my broken heart.