It Burns! It Burns!


Someone threw holy water on me once.


She didn’t know me. She knew not my favorite color or novel or whether I had gone to my high school prom. She hadn’t met my parents or my children or my great-grandmother who, at 98, still smoked a pack of Camels a day. She had no idea that I learned to read when I was just four years old or that geometric theorems gave me migraines. She never heard that love song a pretty boy with a guitar had written for me or the story of how I’d secretly longed to be a member of the Brat Pack since the totally bitchin’ eighties and the arrival of Molly Ringwald. She’d never seen that old home video of me breakdancing when I was nine or that picture of my childhood pet, the great Gatsby.


She didn’t even know my name.


I looked down at the drops of oily water freckling my arms and then back at the stranger before me. The brochures and paperwork set out methodically on the table just moments before were, no doubt, wet as well. I stared at the smirk on her face and the blatant hatred in her eyes for but a moment before returning to the task at hand.


Just as she didn’t need to know my name, I needed not her reasons.


As I dabbed here and there with the paper towel, I wondered at my lack of anger. The voice that had always been first with the quick retort and witty debate was strangely silent. I looked around the room at all of her supporters and their stern faces and then at those that I stood by… She walked over to a group thick by the door and grinned in triumph at her three children just as the beginning of the program was announced. The woman in nun’s robes next to me laid a hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently in encouragement before taking her place at the podium.


The button on my shirt said, “My Body. My Choice.”

The brochure in my hand said, “Keep It Safe. Keep It Legal .”

And the banner across the entranceway said, “This IS What Catholic Looks Like.”


Although I’ll always harbor a little regret for not pretending to melt and wither away on contact, I’ll never forget the lesson that I learned that day.


Even within those bonds born of love and faith, we travel different paths. Who am I to judge the way that is right?

January 19, 2007
Categories: Daily

1.©2007 by Courtney Hebert as Judith Shakespeare.
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3.Blog title courtesy of Oscar Wilde, pseudonym Virginia Woolf, design JudithShakes.