We live in very, very loud times.
From the constant alerts on our phones to the almost unending din of political rhetoric, finding time for quietude, reflection, and ritual — even in our most vulnerable moments — feels increasingly difficult.
Yet these are the moments when rituals become all the more important. In these times when fear and anger and judgment swell in volume, our hearts yearn for quiet, sacred spaces in which we can process the changes in our lives, the world that surrounds us, and the thresholds that we must inevitably cross. When I picture a sacred space, my mind’s eye goes instantly to The Croí, a worship space at Corrymeela in Northern Ireland, which is designed in the shape of the human heart. While the shape is that of a heart, it also mimics that of an inner ear — so much so that poet Reggie Askew spoke these words at the Croí’s dedication:
The Croí is like an ear,
A great intricate ear to catch prayers in.
When I think of rituals, I think of them as a process of catching prayers — tangible, embodied ways of marking our thresholds and transitions, when we take time to silence the din of the world and instead listen to the sacred reflections occurring in those powerful moments. We mark births and namings, adolescence and adulthood, marriage and death, menarche and pregnancy. Rituals are sacred: they help us honor the different aspects of our life cycles through spirituality, community, and introspection.
Why should abortion – and any reproductive decision-making – be any different?
When I discovered Abortions Welcome, RCRC’s spiritual companion for use before, during, and after abortion, I was a former birth doula entering my studies as a divinity student, interested in creating my own rituals for abortion and pregnancy loss. I had noticed, as have so many others before me, the theological gap where the political right had “claimed” the religious narrative about abortion, and I wanted to help others who sought to reclaim that theological guidance and support.
In partnership with RCRC, I created four additional spiritual practices for Abortions Welcome. To me, coming to this work in the age of Dobbs felt like divine timing. I have deep compassion and respect for those who hold human life as sacred; indeed, it is from that place of love and honoring of life that these practices arose. It is an essential moment to remember a theology that is in the both/and: human life is sacred and abortion, too, can be a sacred, often grief-filled threshold that honors life and is worthy of spiritual support. There could not be a more important moment to create spiritual tools to help us heal, individually and collectively, the harm done by the anti-choice movement. The practices and rituals I created were designed to embody the strength we can find in divinity, to act as a balm to the stigma and shame that the anti-choice movement has instilled within us.
Wrap me now in a warm blanket of safety and assurance
Of ancestral support
Of step by step
Of breath by breath
Rituals remind us that there is nowhere we can go where God — or however you define the divine — is not. Through creating and sharing resources like Abortions Welcome, and by building a network of clergy who can practice this gentle abortion chaplaincy, we are praying into being a world that is so much more compassionate than the one we have now. We create, no matter where we are, our own sacred caves, our own heart-spaces, our own listening ears that let us catch our prayers, hold them — and then, when we’re ready, to let them go.
We’re putting in the work, even though we might not reap the rewards. That work is, itself, a sacred ritual.
Help me, today, to trust the process
To know that there is nowhere I can go that God is not
To remember that I am never alone
May it be so.
Ritualist, Facilitator, and Doula