Earlier this week I went into town. It was a doctor’s appointment, a rare event in these Covod-19 days. It was at a time that was early in the day and not allocated with bus times in mind. I was given a clean bill of health which I didn’t think I’d earned. It was all too hasty and relied far too much on what I said, and I know I can give a good talk.
I walked back into town along the river. Lockdown rules were still in place. No shops or cafes were open, and the only public toilets were in the train station. There was a bus going in my direction, so I got on. There was a lot of road works on the go, more than usual perhaps as workmen made the best use of the almost empty roads. Busses had been rerouted and were stopping in unusual places.
This particular bus stopped outside Primark. The yellow lines that defined the space as a bus stop had been redefined for the purpose of the roadworks with concrete block and bollards. It was negotiable but perhaps not so for old ladies with walking sticks and shopping trollies.
She was 95 years old. The walking stick got caught in with the concrete block as she was getting on the bus. She tripped and fell over. Most people right themselves and laugh self-consciously. She did neither but lay frighteningly still. There was blood, not a lot of it, but it was there. The two nearest passengers rushed forward. She was dazed and the driver told them not to help her up. He was calling an ambulance. Sometimes in trying to help we cause more damage. The two passengers knelt to reassure the woman, Violet, that help was on the way.
The ambulance arrived. Violet was helped to her feet and then taken to the ambulance. The driver told us we had to stay on the bus as the inspector was on his way and we would need to give statements. I was on the wrong side of the bus to see anything.
I couldn’t help but admire that a 95 -year old the woman could still be living in her own home and using the busses to go places. I am decades younger and. Yes, I’m living at home with a husband, but I struggle with busses and journeys and leaving the safety of home behind. She had neighbours checking in on her and someone doing a weekly shop, but she was still out there on the bus going into town on her own. I suppose, to be honest, I thought she needed a minder for that.
I have fallen over countless times. Once I fell walking over railway tracks on a hunt for bats. I wanted to stay down, but railway tracks are not places to stay fallen over. The group I was with pulled me to my feet with a sense of urgency
Just lately I have been wondering whether I have fallen over in my faith walk. Lockdown has had such a negative effect on mental health and although I am normally quite cheerful, I feel drained of all cheer. I don’t chide myself or tell myself briskly to pull my socks up and get a grip. I just acknowledge how I feel and work with it. I know the kind of things I can do to rescue myself before things get bad. Spiritually, I might be laying on the train tracks, but I have enough sense to get up before the train comes.
I can get up all by myself – but should I? There are so many friends and family that would love to be asked to help me get up. There is something about helping others, or feeling useful, that blesses people. I know that there would be no heavy sighs, and grumbles or resentment at being asked. I am loved and there are very few opportunities when I ask for help.
The world has become an isolating place. People are not supposed to fall over. But they do. And what happens next matters.
God loves it when people live in communities, when the singular of me, and I, you, him and her becomes us and we, and they.