Chapter 24 » 24.28

Practical expressions of our peace testimony

Public protest

The following is the testimony of a Friend who participated in the vigil, inspired and sustained by women, against the cruise missile base at Greenham Common in the 1980s.

I stood at the fence one night in September, feet rooted to the muddy ground, hands deep in my pockets, watching through the wire that flat ravaged land that is now never dark, never quiet, imagining through the fence a field of bracken and scrub, a field of flowers, a field of corn, a field of children playing. Red police car, blue lights flashing, ‘What are you doing, then, love? Not cutting the fence are you?’ ‘No, just praying at it.’ A soldier with a dog walks up and down inside, suspicious, watching me watching him. ‘Good evening.’ ‘Good evening.’ I wait, not knowing what I’m waiting for. The kingdoms of the Lord? A hundred yards to my left, women cut the wire, roll away the stone, and walk through into the tomb. No angels greet them; no resurrection yet.

Yet still women witness to that possibility, the possibility that something may be accomplished which in our own strength we cannot do. Women waiting, watching, just being there, behaving as if peace were possible, living our dream of the future now. ‘Why do you come here? Why do you keep coming?’ – a soldier near Emerald camp on an earlier visit – ‘It’s no use, there’s nothing you can do, what do you women think you can do by coming here? The missiles are here, you won’t change anything, why do you come?’ We come to watch, we come to witness, we come with our hands full of ribbon and wool, flowers and photos of loved ones, hands full of poems and statements and prayers, hands full of hope and the knowledge that such hope is impossible to rational minds. I come to be with the women who live here, the dykes, the dropouts, the mothers and grandmothers, angels with countenances like lightning, I come to talk with the police, the soldiers, men who might be gardeners standing by the tomb; I come to meet the Christ in them.

A member of the Quaker Women’s Group, 1986

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