I sat in my wheelchair in the middle of a huge hall, in the total darkness, not knowing which way I was facing, or where the door to get out of the room was. I was alone. I was panicking. Sitting at a table at one end of the room was a group of people. I had been sitting with this group of people just a few minutes earlier, when one of them attacked me verbally and ridiculed me in front of the others. The hall was a church hall, and we were all meant to be having a friendly coffee and chat together. The attack came quite out of the blue. I had no idea who was at the table, for people never spoke to me directly, or said my name. It was impossible for me to discern voices and who was speaking at any given time. I was alone and cut off, though in company. I inhabited a different world to them. The world of a blind wheelchair user.
The person sitting next to me WAS someone whom I knew. Norma. She had had a habit of accosting me at various times, and the last time it had been because I was not smiling and waving at people when they smiled and waved at me. It was known that I was blind, but no allowance was made for that. Norma had accosted me telling me that I was stand offish and snobbish. Additionally, I was full of pride, and that was a deadly sin and I would have to go to Confession. She repeated this to everyone around the table that morning, at which I swung my wheelchair round, intending to leave the room. However, it was something that I could not do without help. Someone had guided me into the hall, but now, there was no one to guide me out. I could hear the group of people, led by Norma, continuing to talk about me, and I just sat there, right out in the middle of the huge hall, trapped and helpless. There was no way at all that I could find my way out, and the doors were double doors anyway, that someone would have to open for me. No one came to my aid.
I sat there for a while, smarting, afraid, and trapped. Unable to leave and get away from this cruelty. In time, however, the lady from the kitchen noticed my plight and came to help me and guide me out through the double doors. Norma noticed this happening, and followed us, getting in my way so that I ran over her foot. At that, she yelled loudly, so that all the others could hear,
“NOW she’s run over my bloody foot.”
My only way out of this was to ring my husband to come to the church and pick me up. I was in shreds..
The darkness inside me was impenetrable. I was blind, and through no fault of my own, was being accused of what was viewed as a terrible sin – unjustly.
There was only one place that I could go, and, once we had been home to recuperate somewhat, I asked my husband to take me to an ancient little church where I always found peace.
It was almost night time by now, and it was dark by the time we got there. I went and sat inside the little church in the total darkness. It was pitch black. As I sat, feeling like a stone, and as if nothing could reach me, quite suddenly, I had an amazing experience. It was as if the dark was putting its arms around me. I cannot to this day explain it or understand it, but all that I can say is that it happened. It felt like a mother putting her arms around me.
It was this experience that made me start thinking more about the darkness. It was not necessarily bad, or a thing to be feared. It could have a good side to it too. That day changed my life for ever.