83. A Miracle

IN LOURDES, WE STAYED at a small hotel owned by a British couple. We were their only guests that evening, so we dined with the hosts. Inevitably, over the course of the meal the conversation turned to the subject of miracles. Our hosts, Margaret and John, told us that in Lourdes miracles were so common they were almost an ordinary part of life - practically unremarkable, added John. When we asked for an example, they told us about an incident that had occurred the previous summer. A busload of Spanish pilgrims from Saragossa had been crossing the mountains on their way to Lourdes in the midst of a heavy downpour of rain - the kind of downpour, they added, that is not uncommon in these parts in late summer and early autumn. The busdriver had, at an especially tricky section of the road, lost control of the bus, which plunged several hundred feet down a steep ravine into a river that, though normally calm, the rain had turned into a raging torrent. There were only two survivors, a three year-old girl, whose parents perished in the accident, and the driver. Their survival was deemed a miracle, further proof, if it was needed, of the intercessory powers of Our Lady of Lourdes. When we asked what had subsequently happened to the little girl and the bus driver, our hosts were unable to provide us any details, other than that the girl, who was left paralysed from the waist down, was now in foster care, while the driver, who was currently in a French prison awaiting trial on charges of reckless driving and who had not applied for bail, was on 24-hour suicide watch, having already made several attempts on his life.