Wednesday, September 22, 2010


It was dusk.  She was coming home after a glorious yoga week in Italy.  She had dropped off her daughter and was driving down the middle lane, lights on in the half-light, when she saw traffic ahead.  She slowed.  The huge, articulated lorry behind her did not.  

She doesn't remember much of what happened next.  She knows that the car was spun the wrong way into the inside lane.  She opened her eyes and saw the traffic coming towards her.  She remembers calling out - Don't let me be hurt!  Don't let me be hurt! - and then somehow the lorry hit her car again and she was pushed off the road to land, nose-down, in the verge.

The Lithuanian lorry driver thought that she was dead.  She knows this because she watched him stumble over to her, his hands covering his face.  But he helped her out, and she told him she was fine, and tried to calm him down, and then the off-duty ambulance appeared, and a passing driver, and soon after the police.

She wasn't too bad when I saw her on Sunday.  She was shakier today. Instinctively I touched her when she told me, touched her flesh-and-blood arm and said Oh thank God you're okay.

She isn't an old friend, but she is a very dear one, being the closest I have here in Kent Town.  We began a spiritual journey together four years ago when we found ourselves the newest attenders at a Quaker meeting and discovered an instant, mutual bond.  And so it was for her, really, that I made the effort to re-arrange life and childcare arrangements to attend the Peace Vigil this evening, which she had principally organised. 

It was an unexpected pleasure, to sit in silence as the air grew dark around us.  One long candle stood at the centre of the table, and as twilight turned to night I became aware that other, smaller candles had been placed on the wooden ledge running along the walls of the room.  No-one spoke.  For one whole hour fifteen people's thoughts turned themselves to the vast and open question of Peace.

I soon found that I needed to think of Peace with a small 'p'.  I couldn't find any hope of making an impact unless I addressed peace as it applied to me, working with the principle that starting with the individual is not a bad approach to changing the world.

I was aware of my bruised, troubled friend two seats away, and wondered how her thoughts ran.  Her words came to me again - Don't let me be hurt! Don't let me be hurt! - and it struck me how very much, recently, I have lived by them myself.  How fear, not peace, has ruled my shaken heart.

The light around us shrank until there was only candlelight and a warm yellow from the streetlamps outside.  Window shadows quivered on the walls.  

Little by little the meeting gathered until we became our prevailing thoughts.


nuttycow said...

I'm glad your friend is ok (well, at least, on the mend). What a truly terrifying experience for her.

(on an unrelated note - what fantastic writing Livvy... I could almost be in that room with you)

Shiny said...

What a beautiful thing to do! x

merry weather said...

Livvy, your writing can be light in a dark place. Do keep on...

(Masagines - Chuckle!! God bless kids. Where would we be without them, they're just wonderful.)