It happened just as the day retired and the shades of the evening took centre stage. The hospital car park was still and silent. The half-filled car park asleep with a plethora of vehicles patiently awaiting the return of their drivers.
She ran out of nowhere. Hysterical. Sobbing. Inconsolable. The shock of the trauma hindered her from pressing the keys on her mobile phone. Slowly she sank to the ground, the tears falling as if the floodgates had burst. She struggled to rise and then paced back and forth in a frenzy. She spun around like in a daze and then flopped to the ground again as if the pain had sapped all her energy.
I attempted to get out of the car to provide her with assistance, care and comfort and was stopped in my tracks by the five ambulances, six police cars and three fire engines that screeched when entering the car park.
Her distress escalated at their arrival. Her face was contorted, and her body twisted almost involuntarily. I went to her. Whether it was the cold of an early January afternoon or the stress of the situation, she shivered uncontrollably. Her body melted into mine as I put my arms around her as she continued to cry.
As the light faded, we stood together, two strangers, united by a freak accident that had occurred to a medical professional, a colleague of hers, in the car park. I prayed and asked the Father for the right words to say – there were no words – no words, except, "do you want a blanket?"
This week, Seventh-day Adventist Christians worldwide have started 'Ten Days of Prayer', the theme: Back to the Altar. In essence, it calls us to reinstate the altars in our homes. But today, as I witnessed the terrible scene before me, I knew it was a call for me always to carry my altar.
The need to pray is never so urgent as it is today. As we rise in the morning, let our waking thoughts be lifted to God, our Heavenly Father. Before we speak to family members or turn on our phones, let us offer a prayer of thanks that God has given us another day of life. As well as our morning devotion offered on the spiritual altar, let us like Brother Lawrence, the 17th century Carmelite friar, who practised 'the presence of God in one single act that does not end'.
Practising the presence of God means that we are alert to the whispers of His voice, despite our reservations. It entails us conversing with Him about the little things. It provides us opportunities to minister and witness and demonstrate His love.
Two hours later, I left the hospital car park. Scores of emergency personnel have walked past me, dressed in black, white, and khaki. Flashing blue lights highlight the seriousness of the situation. Later, I learned that, unfortunately, the incident ended in a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the deceased's family, and I also pray that somehow through the silence and the hugs to the young stranger, God's love would be revealed.