Perhaps like me you had never heard of Buncrana in Ireland, let alone its pier before yesterday. Yet also like me you may have been horrified and distressed to hear how a day out turned to tragedy when a family car slid into Lough Swilly and five of the six people inside drowned.
Davitt Walsh was walking by when he witnessed the events unfolding, and not thinking of his own safety, entered the water to try and help. Sean McGrotty the driver realised the hopelessness of their situation, the car was sinking too fast; there were no handles on the windows and the water was coming in
Climbing out of a smashed window Sean passed to Davitt his four month old daughter, asking him to ‘take the baby’. Mr Walsh then recounted that rather than saving himself, as he might, Sean McGrotty chose to re-enter the car and die with his two older sons, their young aunt and grandmother.
Such events are a challenge to people of faith. They are beyond comprehension and words and one can only be numb in the face of such pain and loss.
When Jesus was dying in humiliation and agony, he recited snippets from one of the Psalms: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
Amongst the chocolate eggs, rabbits and visits to garden centres that mark much of our modern Easter season there remains a story of deep humanity and profound spirituality. It is a story of helplessness and fear and of sacrifice and hope.
Our world can seem a very dark place at times; yet the actions of Mr McGrotty and Mr Walsh gives hope in the darkness of despair.
The followers of Jesus felt that despair and darkness as all their dreams seem to die with their leader upon the Cross. Christians believe that the story didn’t come to an end on Good Friday. Rather it was just beginning…..
May I wish those of faith, and those of none, a peaceful, hopeful and safe Eastertide.