For whatever reason, this memory came back to me today.
I must have been 9 years old at the time. It was a beautiful summers evening, the kind of evening you dream about. My elder brother and I were friends with our neighbours, three boys of similar ages. This particular evening they also had their cousins over. We used to play in the fields together and ride our motorbikes. This particular evening we couldn’t decide what to do, maybe it was because there cousins were over too.
We eventually decided to have a stone fight. It’s the kind of thing boys do. In hindsight I wouldn’t recommend it. As I think about the evening it must have been late summer as the fields we played in were full of round bails.
The game started off as a bit of fun, but somehow the game play changed and it turned out being everyone against me. I was hiding out behind a bale and they were throwing there stones. I threw as good as I could, one against many. We were all pretty rubbish shots as none of the stones met with their targets. Except for one, the one I threw. As I remember the event it seemed like the stone was in slow motion as I threw it. It landed on my friend, the boy next door. The youngest member of the group. Immediately his head split open and blood poured out. Being the youngest member everyone wanted to look after him, and now he was injured all eyes turned on me.
I ran so fast, and they pursued me, shouting. I was scared. I ran into my garden and then into the house where my dad was watching the Guns of Navarone. I was upset and he asked me what had happened. I remember sitting close to him on the sofa, it was the safest place I could think of. He would watch over me.
I hadn’t meant to hit him. I was sorry, but I needed safety. My friends brother came round and told it was ok , no one was cross and that they realised it was an accident. Somehow it was going to be ok.
Stuff happens to us through out life. We make mistakes, it is in those moments we need a safe place to run. As I think about this story, my fathers house was the safest place. And it still is. When you are nine you don’t know anything different, your dad is your safe place. But somehow we lose it, we forget, we ‘grow up’. But we need to return to this place, the place where we can run into our father’s house, knowing that it is a safe place, knowing that we cannot make it on our own. And that our self made defence is found wanting.
It is not far away, it is near.