By Rev. Terry Williams, Ohio RCRC Faith Organizer
I had to fight with Miss T.
“You shouldn’t be doing that, Miss T,” I admonished. “We made a mess all over the place, and we should be the ones to clean it up.”
“No, no! I sweep this floor all the time, and it’s part of my job,” stated Miss T. “You just go on, and get out there and finish off some of that food. I’ll be fine!”
We continued to argue.
After the reception, she had waited patiently and was now cleaning up. A broom in one hand, a long-handled dust pan in the other, she was not about to let go of either without a fight.
Still, I pleaded.
“Would you let me do it and go get some food? That would bless me real good, Miss T, if you would let me sweep and you go get some food. There’s plenty, and we need people to take some home.”
Reluctantly, she let me have the broom and pan.
“Promise me you’ll get in the corners real good,” said Miss T. “People forget the corners.”
I was awestruck at the tenacity, grit, and compassion in this woman. An hour earlier, I had entered her domain — an abortion clinic in Columbus, OH — to participate in a clinic blessing.
With faith leaders and congregants from all kinds of faith and ethical traditions, we blessed the abortion clinic in a rose ritual that covered the clinic hallways with the petals of dark, red roses.
While medical rooms were off limits to preserve cleanliness, every other area of the clinic received our attention. The waiting room, consultation spaces, hallways, and reception areas — all of these spaces received the soft petals of roses blessing the hard, holy work that goes on there day after day.
We bless abortion clinics, because they represent the sacred space of decision — the holy ground where pregnant people can make the best decisions for their life without judgment, fear, or coercion. These are places where everyone is dedicated to empowering patients to own their authority and walk in hope toward their future. Everyone from the receptionists to the medical staff to Miss T.
“I keep this place shining brighter than my own home,” declared Miss T. “These gals deserve it, you know!”
Miss T. takes such pride in her work, and she doesn’t trust her job to just anyone. Her work is also one one of blessing and of extravagant hospitality that leaves no person (or corner) behind.
Miss T’s commitment to reach even the farthest corners with her broom and pan are a tangible expression of the real mission that clinics like hers fulfill in our state each day. Dedicated to ensuring that every person — no matter their background, financial status, location, or social standing — has access to the full range of healthcare options that modern science can offer, these clinics do a holy work not just for most people in our society, but for all people.
I encourage you to remember Miss T and her broom and pan the next time you think of the work of our abortion clinics here in Ohio. Think of her dedication and unfailing commitment to excellence, refusing to cede even one small corner to the grit and grime of daily living.
Remember Miss T’s insistence that the patients deserve the very best we have to offer. Recall her commitment to the margins, and remember that abortion clinics are blessed and holy spaces because they are committed to the margins as well.