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Opinion Column


A good Samaritan in an unfamiliar world

Keith Morris witnesses an example of empathy and comfort in an unlikely setting.

With our two grown-up children showing us a clean pair of heels in terms of world travel, late last year my wife and I decided we needed to make a big trip ourselves, so as not to get left too far behind.
Global warming concerns set to one side, we decided to head for South Africa in October for two weeks to join a small group of unknown fellow travellers. One concern was, ‘Would we get on with and even like our new holiday companions with whom we would be spending the next two weeks in a minibus riding around a foreign country?’
When we got into the flight lounge at Heathrow, late one Saturday evening, we had a look around to see if we could spot anyone who we thought would be in our group. But before we could hardly glance up, a friendly gentleman opposite us leaned over and - spotting me pulling on my flight socks - said: “Are you with the Exodus group?” He was obviously an old hand at this game and claimed to have spotted most of the group already.  We were not due to sit next to our new friend, Andrew, on the plane so we said “we will see you on the other side” – and parted company.
We next saw him in a different departure lounge at Johannesburg airport, where there was a very unfortunate incident taking place, with someone lying prostrate on the floor and a paramedic attempting chest compressions. The attempt failed and a sheet was drawn over the poor fellow’s head.
While we watched on, Andrew got up and went over to a lady who was visibly upset by the incident – it turned out she was a doctor who had bravely joined in the attempt to save a life. Andrew spoke quietly to her and then joined us in the queue for another plane. I was impressed.
Again, we had to leave our new acquaintance for seats in a different part of the plane for an internal flight and were left wondering why he alone had been prepared to step forward and offer a few words of comfort to a total stranger in a very awkward situation. We pondered that he must be a professional - either a doctor or a priest we thought.
Later that day, when we got to our destination and could chat properly over a glass or two of South African Shiraz, it turned out that one of us was right. Our own Good Samaritan, in civvies not in a dog collar before anyone jumps to that conclusion, was a Catholic priest - on holiday, or so he thought!
The rest of our group of fellow-travellers were also a great bunch, by the way, and we had a wonderful two weeks – even though we had to watch England lose the rugby World Cup final to the Springboks while we were there!

Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay.com

This article has also appeared in the Yarmouth Mercury and on Network Yarmouth

KeithMorris100Keith Morris is publisher of the Christian community website www.networknorfolk.co.uk and Director of Communications for the Catholic Diocese of East Anglia.


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