Everyone and their mother knows that this past weekend, Washington D.C. and much of the East Coast experienced one of the worst blizzards in recent history. Of course, our favorite annual event, the March for Life, just happened to fall on this weekend. The weather caused the number of participants to fall short of the half million we’ve come to expect. Regardless of attendance figures, major media outlets never fail to provide minimal coverage for this major event. However, a different light was shed this year; one of faith and perseverance.
As this year’s March concluded, many groups were eager to leave the D.C. area in fear of a quickly approaching Winter Storm Jonas. Our group, The University of Akron Students for Life, left about two hours early thinking that would be enough time to effectively avoid the blizzard. It wasn’t. We along with many other groups returning to the Midwest got tied up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It wasn’t long before we realized we were going to be stuck for a while – a long while…
It is funny how in the moment of distress, the mind can become muddled with thoughts of imminent catastrophe.
“What if we run out of gas?”
“What if we run out of food/water?”
“What if the toilet overflows!?”
Surely valid concerns, yet the mentality on our bus was one of poise and optimism. It didn’t matter if we were stuck for 4 hours or for 40 hours; we were together.
As the hours crept by, the need for a community became evident. Pro-life groups from around the country immerged from their buses and quickly became acclimated. It wasn’t long before Save the Storks signs handed out during the March became temporary sleds. Many took short walks on the well-maintained right lane shoulder. Others preferred the warmth of the buses to read, play cards, or simply sleep. Meanwhile, people in smaller vehicles were invited onto charter buses as a means to save fuel, stay warm, and have access to a restroom. Those with extra food and water shared what they had. I compared the dynamic to that of a small neighborhood.
The capstone of the weekend came midday on Saturday (day after the March) with the now famous #TurnpikeMass. I don’t think written words can put into scale how truly profound this Mass was.
It captured the very essence of what it means to be pro-life; unglamorous yet beautiful.
Amidst the trial of being stranded on the turnpike, hundreds of strangers came together and found a reason to celebrate. The best word I can use to describe this in the fullness of the definition is epic.
Similarly, the enthusiasm and energy of this generation is contagious, and epic in itself.
I know we, at The University of Akron, are constantly feeding off each other. For you to be pro-life and to wish authentic life for others is to be fully alive yourself. The turnpike Mass showed a level of devotion much bigger than the prayerful intentions a few hundred, it showed the devotion of an entire culture that sacrifices itself so that others might taste precious life.
In the end, the time between departure from Washington D.C. and arrival in Akron, Ohio amounted to about 36 hours, 20 of which were spent on the turnpike. I have talked to every member of our SFL group (and I think this is a common theme amongst groups who went on this year’s March), everyone would do it again in a heartbeat. If doing something radically pro-life means suffering, then bring it on! Any amount of suffering we must endure is miniscule compared to the suffering of those victimized by abortion.
On our hearts has been placed the zeal to save lives, and we must act on that accordingly. Sure, the weather for the 2016 March for Life sucked, but our faith and perseverance is more impressive than a few feet of snow.