Remembering and believing…

June (and the beginning of July) were just too busy – but brilliant. Each Saturday, there was something on, or I was away. Lots of travelling, long days and late nights. From the 1st weekend in June spent in Scargill House in Yorkshire, 2nd Saturday there was afternoon tea in our church, the following weekend I was in Bala, North Wales. Then next Saturday, I helped organise a fundraising coffee morning for Relay for Life in Pontypool. The last weekend in June was the Relay itself.  Oh and the 1st week in July was a church afternoon tea again. Last Saturday I was sitting down – it was weird, I felt like I should have been dashing about somewhere…

It’s a relief to be able to stop for a bit and review the non-stop weekends of busyness. In all the travelling and organising, there were moments when I was stopped in my tracks and made to be still. This is one of them…

When I was looking at our route back to Pontypool from Bala, I noticed we could travel via Aberfan. I’d wanted to visit Aberfan since hearing about the tragedy in 2016, 50 years after it happened. A colliery spoil tip collapsed killing 116 children and 28 adults. It engulfed the local primary school and some of the buildings nearby. I hadn’t heard about it before the anniversary, and was shocked by the reports I read about the tragedy. And that it happened only 20 miles from where I lived. I didn’t want to gawp or stare, or nosey into a town’s history of grief. But I did want to see for myself an image that had imprinted on my mind when I saw it on the news. Two rows of white marble scalloped headstones. The resting place of those who had lost their lives.

photo credit is my own

It was a steep climb up to the grave yard and sight of the gravestones took my breath away. Even now it’s hard to get my head around such heartbreaking history. Rich and I walked slowly along the row, without much conversation. There was nothing to say. Every so often I stopped and shook my head in disbelief as I read messages of love and loss on the gravestones. I stopped again at one grave whose flowers had fallen over. I fixed them as best I could and found myself talking to the 7 year old buried there. “Let me tidy these for you love,” I said, trying not to cry for the little stranger. “There you go. Can’t leave you untidy now, can I? It’s the least I can do for you.” It was overwhelming. A moment that will never leave me.

I spent many “why God?” moments after that. And though I don’t agree with those who believe God is cruel and uninterested, I can understand why tragic events bring those responses. It sent me back to the book of Isaiah, which I had been studying for a while. I’m not about to preach a sermon, but reading God’s Word reminds me that even in the most devastating situations, he is worth trusting. I get that many would disagree with me, but I still believe God is good.

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