Monday, 4 October 2010
Another motorist had come at speed from behind and failed to brake hitting the priest’s car so hard that it pushed him forward into the path of oncoming traffic at the street intersection. The priest felt himself thrown violently forward when his car was hit from behind; and then he was hit again just as violently when a bus hit him on the side as his vehicle moved forward onto the traffic. The sideways hit was so hard that the priest’s car swung round almost back the way it was coming.
Father Ignatius must have lost consciousness for a few moments because the next thing he heard was the sound of sirens and blue and red lights flashing everywhere.
He opened his eyes slowly and felt the warm trickle of blood down his face. He tried to move but he felt trapped in what now was a crushed metal box around him. He was somewhat dazed and in pain all over. His thoughts turned to panic when he considered the possibility of the car exploding into fire.
He looked to his side and saw a huge man in a bright yellow helmet. The man managed to open the car door window slightly and said:
“Please sir, don’t move … we’ll have you out in no time. I am Fireman Derek Larcing … my colleagues will help you straightaway …”
Father Ignatius must have mumbled something incoherent because the fireman continued,
“I didn’t quite understand that Sir … eh … I notice you’re wearing a white collar Sir … are you a priest?”
“Yes …” said Father Ignatius.
“What is your name Sir?” asked the fireman.
“That’s good Ignatius … now don’t talk and tire yourself. I’d like you please to try to move your feet and your toes … can you do that for me?”
The priest moved his feet and toes and then nodded.
“That’s a good sign Ignatius. Can you move your arms and hands?” The priest nodded again.
“OK … I’ll hand you this piece of cloth through the window, please just hold it on your head wound. It is sterilized and will soak the blood. Just hold it still … don’t wipe … just keep it there for a moment or two …” said the fireman soothingly.
“You’re obviously in great discomfort Sir, in such a confined space. The vehicle’s bodywork has collapsed around you, but all signs are that you don’t have any broken bones …”
“I know how sardines feel like …” said the priest forcing a smile.
“That’s good Sir, a sense of humor helps in moments like these … my colleagues have all the cutting equipment ready and we’ll soon have you out. It will be noisy for a while whilst they cut through the bodywork … but we’ll soon have you out.”
Fireman Larcing moved to the other side of the car whilst his colleagues started cutting open the bodywork. Moments later the priest was out of the wreckage and able to stand on his own feet. A couple of ambulance men moved forward and asked him to lie on a stretcher. Before he could protest that he was OK to go home the priest had been carried into a waiting ambulance and driven at speed to hospital.
On arrival at the hospital Father Ignatius was surrounded by doctors and nurses. They cleaned his head wound which had bled profusely and took various X Rays to ensure there were no broken bones or internal injuries.
As he lay in his hospital bed half-dazed by the experience he noticed Father Donald and Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper, sitting beside him. Someone had contacted them soon after the accident.
Before Father Ignatius could say anything a doctor came in.
“Well Father …” said the doctor, “I’m not a believer personally … but it seems to me that your God must have been with you in that accident.
“Apart from the deep cut above your eye … which missed your eye by millimeters … you seem to be perfectly OK. There are no broken bones or fractures or internal injuries whatsoever … A few bruises which will soon heal … and maybe a scar will remain on your forehead.
“To be honest Father … my colleagues and I are surprised you’re alive. The police and fire brigade cannot understand how you got out of that wreckage in one piece.
“It’s as if someone was there with you in the car holding you tightly in His arms and shielding you with His body.”
Father Ignatius said nothing, whilst Father Donald made the Sign of the Cross.
“Was anyone else hurt?” asked Father Ignatius eventually.
“No … no one. The car which hit you from behind was damaged as was the bus which hit you from the side. But no one was hurt. Police say witnesses saw your car spin right round like a top when it was hit on the side.
“We’ll keep you here for a day or so for observations,” continued the doctor, “just a precaution you understand … we doctors like to make sure …”
A week later Father Ignatius had a visitor in church. It was a tall handsome man in jeans and T shirt.
“I am Fireman Derek Larcing … Father.” he said quietly.
“Oh do come in …” the priest invited him in the Parish House, “I didn’t recognize you without your bright yellow helmet!”
Moments later, as they were enjoying a nice cup of tea and biscuits the fireman said, “Sir … I have something to tell you.
“I am not a religious man … somehow, I don’t believe in anything. Religion was never mentioned in our house or at school …
“The thing is Sir … a few days before your accident I had a dream … nothing specific, I can’t even remember it … but I remember seeing a man in my dreams with a white collar … just as you’re wearing.
“It happened twice … a few days later I saw the same man in my dream … I can’t even make out his face … but I remember the white collar well.
“I mentioned it to my wife and we thought nothing of it. We just laughed it off. But since your accident my wife asked me to come and see you and tell you about it.”
“Thank you for doing so.” said Father Ignatius gently, “I cannot explain it nor interpret it … dreams do feature often in Christian teachings and there are several instances recorded in the Bible. Whether your dreams are of any significance I cannot tell … but I sure welcome you being there and helping me when I was in that wreckage.”
The fireman smiled and said.
“The thing is Sir … my wife and I discussed this incident … especially you coming out of the car alive and in one piece … I’ve seen many accidents in my time but none so bad with such an outcome …
“My wife and I think we should come to your church … is that allowed? We’re not Christian or anything you see …”
“Everyone is allowed in God’s Church” said the priest, “it is His and not mine.
“You’re welcome on Sunday … take it one step at a time and perhaps you’d wish to join our Adult Catechism Classes too when you’re ready … just come along and see how it goes!”
… And that’s what happened as a result of Father Ignatius’ accident.