(Reprinted from the November 2013 issue of Sidewalk Counseling News, published by Pro-Life Action Ministries)

The first workshop at the 2013 National Sidewalk Counseling Symposium was presented by Edmund Miller, who directs a sidewalk counseling ministry in Detroit called Guadalupe Partners. Edmund presented a deep philosophical foundation for persevering in sidewalk counseling despite the intense suffering you sometimes experience and especially during those times when the “saves” are few and far between.

“The Church is the essence of community,” said Edmund. “It is the final community, beyond time, beyond space.” Opposed to this idea of community is the idea of “progress,” whose adherents believe that since time is the only reality and time is measured by change, then in order to have the fullness of reality, you have to have the fullness of change. We see this absolute necessity of change in our society, Edmund explained, even if people don’t see where that change is going.

This idea of progress is a destroyer of community, Edmund said, and he sees it at the abortion mills.  When someone tells us to “get a job,” it means, “do something productive, do something that can be measured.” The pregnant woman is saying the same thing when she views her unborn child as an obstacle to attaining her goals. “You’re going to see the creed of progress just in the whole theory and belief in power,” Edmund added. “This comes out finally at the end — ‘I’m doing this (abortion) because I can do it. I’m doing this because I have the power to do it.’

“It all concludes in the basic belief that this child, this stillness, this infinite moment here, it’s stopping me and I can’t stop.” The woman (and sometimes, the man) can’t stop because if they do, they will start thinking and have to come to grips with the reality of this child, Edmund said.

God identified himself as “I AM,” not as “I DO,” Edmund explained further. God is the essence of existence. “If we’re going to love and respect and honor this God who is I AM, then we have to affirm the “I AM” of the child. And we’re not going to measure his biological capacity. We’ll simply say that the child, because he IS, is worthy of our presence there.”

The job of the sidewalk counselor, according to Edmund, is to awaken in each person their own “IS-ness,” their own nature. “The mother — the nurturer, the receiver. The man — the protector, the generator. As each is what he or she is to the fullness, that is how community is formed.” The good sidewalk counselor “speaks to the woman about her femininity, speaks to the man about his masculinity, speaks to the child about their common humanity.” The sidewalk counselor “says to each person, I affirm you, quite simply, because of what you are. . . . The sidewalk counselor is telling each person that the very fact of their being is of utmost value.” In doing this, “the sidewalk counselor is bringing God, I AM, into that moment . . . and this is the essence of it,” Edmund said.

“When you yourself are a stillness . . . when you continue to stand as this rock there, to affirm human dignity, in and of itself, a dignity that doesn’t have to prove itself, that doesn’t have to justify itself, when you re-speak the basic ‘I AM’ of God, you say to each man, woman and child, ‘As God said, ‘I AM,’ I say to you, ‘You are.’ Your presence there is God. . . . Just know, believe and trust that life is happening.” Some of it you will be able to count, Edmund said, “but fundamentally you have to have this trust that I am standing here bringing God Incarnate to this place and there’s no destructive force that can stand against that power. . . . Our job is to restore human relatedness. Our tool is love, the stuff by which any human bond is made.”  And then Edmund concluded with a quote from the famous Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

“When you yourself are a stillness . . . when you continue to stand as this rock there, to affirm human dignity, in and of itself, a dignity that doesn’t have to prove itself, that doesn’t have to justify itself, when you re-speak the basic ‘I AM’ of God, you say to each man, woman and child, ‘As God said, ‘I AM,’ I say to you, ‘You are.’ Your presence there is God. . . . Just know, believe and trust that life is happening.” Some of it you will be able to count, Edmund said, “but fundamentally you have to have this trust that I am standing here bringing God Incarnate to this place and there’s no destructive force that can stand against that power. . . . Our job is to restore human relatedness. Our tool is love, the stuff by which any human bond is made.”  And then Edmund concluded with a quote from the famous Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

“When you yourself are a stillness . . . when you continue to stand as this rock there, to affirm human dignity, in and of itself, a dignity that doesn’t have to prove itself, that doesn’t have to justify itself, when you re-speak the basic ‘I AM’ of God, you say to each man, woman and child, ‘As God said, ‘I AM,’ I say to you, ‘You are.’ Your presence there is God. . . . Just know, believe and trust that life is happening.” Some of it you will be able to count, Edmund said, “but fundamentally you have to have this trust that I am standing here bringing God Incarnate to this place and there’s no destructive force that can stand against that power. . . . Our job is to restore human relatedness. Our tool is love, the stuff by which any human bond is made.”  And then Edmund concluded with a quote from the famous Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.” by Debra Braun Education and Counseling Director

Edmund Miller

Edmund Miller has sidewalk counseled since 1987. He is married to Monica Migliorino Miller and they have three children. He teaches at Spiritus Sanctus Academy in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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