Writer Heather King's life has always been an open book, but one chapter needed exploration. Kerry Trotter spoke to King recently about her new work "Poor Baby: A Child of the '60s Looks Back on Abortion" and the harrowing journey it recalls
At a time where so much of what is religious has become almost inextricably tied with the political, where social issues hinge more on legislation than any alteration in one’s moral code, when differing beliefs can sever relationships, Author Heather King tackles a most heated topic but manages to step clear away from the fray, and somehow, emerge with a clear message.
In her newest work, “Poor Baby: A Child of the '60s Looks Back on Abortion,” a self-reflective journey hovering somewhere between essay and autobiography, King tells the story of her three abortions and the decades of pain, anxiety and, ultimately, forgiveness that followed.
And also, a revelation surprising to her: she could be a mother to the children she aborted.
“I had suffered in silence as so many women do,” King, 59, said recently in a telephone interview. “It’s a story about death and resurrection. It’s a story about Christ.”
Suffering, she writes, is the “most radical, most incendiary, most taboo subject” in which we can engage, and nothing can alienate a person more than suggesting that our relationship to suffering can illuminate the meaning of life. Suffering is, for so many, born of sin but then reconciled through God, and King’s experience with it is no different. Her desire to grasp the truth meant getting right back into the muck, the mire of it all and coming out the other end...
Heather King, writer and a favorite of Word on Fire staffers, shares with us today her dispatches from a sunny clime, where she reflects on God, purpose and the brave business of surrender.
Hey, man, I'm in Palm Springs. At my friend Christine's all-white house. I'm not even kidding, the whole place is white: outside walls, inside walls, counters, floors, chairs...my biggest fear the last few days has been that I'll explode and get coffee over everything.
Christine gave me detailed instructions before I came out--the garbage, the alarm, the butterfly chairs in the event of wind. I kept it all together, dutifully writing everything down, until the day she called to say, "You can't vacuum the (long-haired angora, dyed, one bright orange, one midnight-blue) rugs. And if you run the Swifter around them, make sure you roll them up because if they get wet, they'll bleed all over the floor." "Okay, stop right there," I said. "Back up just one minute. What on God's green earth is a Swifter?"
It turns out she was saying Swiffer which is apparently a common cleaning implement these days. I wouldn't know, being stuck back in the era of Bon Ami, elbow grease, and a rag cut from an old percale sheet, which is how me mum cleaned and how I would clean, if I cleaned all that much. I am not a slob (I think I said that last post); but I am kind of a lick-and-a-promise person and will dab ineffectively around the edges of things. I'm super conscientious around other people's things, though, so even though I'm here for another week I'm already obsessed with leaving Christine's house clean. I 'shared' and she said Don't worry about it and I forgot to say there's a pass in my name for the Indian Canyons you can use. That's Christine, who is a gem and is attending a spiritual retreat while I sit gazing out over Mt. Jacinto, her Meyer-lemon laden Meyer lemon tree, and her pool...
Today we share a recent blog post of Word on Fire favorite Heather King, in which she examines how spirituality can sometimes be tough work, but that "not having the answers" doesn't preclude us from experiencing joy.
"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn."
So much hatred around religion, always, and maybe particularly now, and at this time of year; so much fear. It’s very very difficult even to be around the edges of that. It kicks up my own hatred and fear and then it kicks up my sorrow. The depth and breadth of the problem, the suffering. You want to focus on the joy but not at the expense of the suffering. You want to focus on the suffering, on the terrible spiritual peril in which we live, but not at the expense of the joy.
It’s a very difficult line to walk. To not take the easy way out and talk in vague terms of love and peace without facing how that pans out in the constant dilemmas of our daily lives: personal, municipal, national, global. To speak truth to power and realize that means not everybody is going to like you; maybe hardly anyone is going to like you. To speak truth to power and, in my own case at least, to know that I'm terribly blind to my own shortcomings; to realize that I'm frequently wrong...