An Old Woman’s Silent Witness

by Kenneth E. Hines on July 10, 2013

As I drive down Rt. 1 in Chester County just past Longwood Gardens I see my “friend” again. I’m running late for my appointment to the VW dealership to have our EOS inspected for its annual Pennsylvania registration renewal.

An Old Woman's Silent Witness

My “friend” was at her usual post in front of the Quaker meetinghouse holding her placard protesting the wars in Afghanistan and the middle east. She’s a small older woman with a frail build and short grey hair. I drive this road regularly and she is almost always there. She is always dressed casually. Light clothing in the summer and a heavy coat in the fall and winter. Like a sentinel she stands resolute in her mission. Patiently, no doubt praying, as the cars whip by at speeds exceeding the limit.

The signs proclaim the message to bring our troops home and end the wars that rage on the other side of the world. Wars that few notice. Sure there are nightly reports of soldiers returning to their families only to be deployed again for second, third, and even fourth tours. There is the not infrequent editorial challenging or, on the other side, promoting the rightness of the conflicts. Still the drivers whiz by.

How many even notice the small witness to life and denunciation of death they pass every day? What does my friend think as she watches so many racing to their jobs or homes or appointments or their pleasures of shopping, eating, and recreating? Does she ever lose heart? Does she wonder if it’s even worth the sacrifice of time and pain of standing for hours on end?

Her silent witness gives me hope that there is still the idea of right and wrong in the world. There is injustice that needs to be set right. Here a little old lady notices and steps up to show the rest of us that someone cares. She hopes for the stop of the drones. The end to the killing of civilians. The return of our troops separated from their families – husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and children. She stands in heat and cold and prays for an end to the bloodshed and ultimately the hubris of a foreign policy that says the US can tell the rest of the world how they should run their countries and their lives.

Does it make a difference? Does it matter? She gives silent witness just as the myriad of monks and nuns rise hours before dawn to take their place before the altar of God and pray for us – to pray for the world. Their prayers arise as incense before the Lord and God hears. The world takes little notice. Yet the prayers go on and they go up. God is pleased and hears the cries of those who have given up all we hold dear so that entreaties on our behalf can be made continually. We fail to notice but God sees and hears and He answers.

So my friend stands there on the side of the road beckoning, entreating, praying for the end of the violence and the return of peace. Few may notice or even care. But God does and her cries do not go unheard.

Please share an experience you’ve had of someone giving witness against injustice and standing for the truth.

  • David Fielden

    Thank you sharing this very moving post, Kenneth…

    • Kenneth E. Hines

      I’m glad you were moved by it. Pray for peace.

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