Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, nor in the earth, but only us...
- Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
The missus and I were driving and having a conversation about pro-life. Earlier, we had agreed that when the kids all go off to college or marriage or the Peace Corps, that we're gonna move up deep into the heart of the mountains and become hermits. We'll write, take naps, and eat biscuits. That's just kinda fyi.
She and a friend were talking and election stuff came up and (I'm editing here) her friend said something like if you're pro-life, tell me what else you're doing for that cause besides voting a particular way in November? It was a fair question, posed by a fair friend. But I could tell that it evoked shame in the missus, the implication being that if you're not volunteering at the crisis pregnancy center or adopting babies from China or something else specifically tied to birth/beginning of life issues, then you're really not pro-life.
After she recalled that conversation, I said something like tell me, what are you doing that's not pro-life? She looked at me like I was a hermit or something; I guess it's already starting to show. I repeated my question and then answered it, as is my custom. My answer sounded something like this:
Wife of mine, when pro-life is so narrowly defined as pertaining to beginning of life issues only, it curls my ponytail. You know me and you know that I believe every sperm and egg that decide to hold hands ought to have the chance one day to go to the prom or join the Peace Corps or become a hermit. But you can't tell me that tucking your kids in every night and kissing them three times to indicate I.Love.You. isn't pro-life. There's no way you can convince me that camping last weekend with friends and basking in the glow of God's sweet gift of the mountains wasn't pro-life. How in the Sam Hill can anyone say that making sure folks have decent medical coverage isn't pro-life? What about making sure kids know how to read? Hell, what about making sure adults know how to read? Again, to my hermit's mind, that's pro-life. Folks making sure animals are treated ethically? Pro-life. Listening to James Taylor play the Red Rocks? Pro-life. Laying your money down for a ticket to see the new western, Appaloosa, when it opens in a few weeks? Pro-life again, little lady. Pro-life is always and will forever be tied to beginning of life stuff, but that's just the beginning. It's not a democratic or republican issue; it's an us issue. Being for life in all of it's variety and in every facet of its representation is being pro-life. Anything less than that, anything, and you've looked in the mirror and then forgotten your face.
She said should we pray now and pass the plate? I said no and we returned to talking about being hermits one of these days, sitting on the porch all day long and reading old National Geographic magazines; pro-life stuff like that.