Wednesday 21 November 2007

Remembrance on the roads

On Sunday I was in Thame to help lead the annual Thames Valley Police Road Death Victims service. 3 people a week die on our local roads, 70% of them under 45. That this is one of thirty events around the country indicates the sheer scale of the heartache that people have to carry after these catastrophic bereavements. Worldwide, it’s the equivalent of a 9/11 every day. David Wilbraham, force chaplain reminded us never to forget in the dark that which we knew in the light of those we love. He quoted an old bit of wisdom from Lancashire mill towns where he served his curacy, which calls all of our life a weaving:
Not till the loom is silent, And shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas,
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Skillful Weaver’s hand,
As the threads of gold & silver
In the pattern He has planned.
Road death is the sort of problem most of us just don’t want to think of most of the time, but it happens every day. Dr Cicely Davey, who lost her husband only two years ago recited a poem. The courage of the people I met was overwhelming, and the kindness and consideration of those present from Police, Ambulance, Fire & rescue and NHS emergency services. Every day they tackle what has to be one of the most harrowing and unpleasant jobs there is, and here they were helping people through the long term slog of coping with what happened in an instant, gently and considerately. Also there were Roadpeace, Brake, and Sara Thornton, Chief Constable. The service culminated with an act of remembrance with white petals on the altar, one for each life commemorated, and two minutes silence. Supt Mick Doyle led prayers near the end of the service:
We can shed tears that they have gone
Or we can smile that they have lived.
We can close our eyes and pray that they will come back
Or we can open our eyes and see all the good they have left us.
Our hearts can be empty because we cannot see them
Or our hearts can be full with the love we have shared.
We can turn our backs on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or we can be happy for tomorrow, because of yesterday.
We can remember them and only that they have gone
Or we can cherish their memory and let it live on.
We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs
Or we can do what they would have wanted:
Smile, open our eyes, love and go on.


David Keen said...

Thankyou for this. We've had a couple of tragic deaths on the road recently, one of a neighbour, the other of someone who'd travelled to the licensing of a new minister. Devastating.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Ouch! We have a stretch of road near here where three people have died in the four years we've lived here. When my eldest daughter was a young teenager, someone from her school were killed in a road crash. His father was churchwarden at a parish in my deanery, and visiting next year for inspections, all we talked about was Matt. I'll always remember the pain, and the courage and the love of that family. And we take so much for granted most of the time...

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