Angels in the rafters

Ten years ago this week I was mourning for two reasons. The first was because I was losing a baby. (I ended up having surgery for an ectopic pregnancy a week later and was devastated, but that's a whole other story...)

The second reason was because the boarding school in Pakistan I had attended for five years, from grade 6 to grade 10, had been attacked by terrorists. 

The attack was carried out on August 5 by four men armed with Kalashnikov weapons. They entered the school through the main gates and made their way past the high school building, up past the elementary school and then by the hostel. They made attempts to get in to each of those buildings but doors were locked - apart from one which could easily have been opened. The terrorists didn't realise that it opened outwards and were kicking on it and banging it with their weapons!

Amazingly there were only six fatalities. While that is terrible of course, it could have been a bloodbath. If the attack had been 10 minutes earlier the children would have been outside enjoying recess. A shower of rain kept one class inside which had had plans to study outside. 

There were many miraculous escapes - too many to tell about. One man running from the scene found himself against a high wall he couldn't scale. He felt himself being pulled over by strong hands but when he turned to look, there was no one there. A staff member was pursued into an empty classroom and hid in the toilet cubicle. The door was weak and could have been kicked down but the attackers didn't do it. They also didn't see the unlocked door into an adjoining classroom full of year 3 and 4 children.

A student later wrote this account: "Sitting there in the hall, waiting to die was the worst time of my life. Then I heard singing. It was faint at first, then it became clearer.

It was while the shooting was still going on and I thought somebody had put a tape or a CD on to calm us down. It was really nice choir music coming out of the rafters.

When the day was over I told my friends and they said they had heard it too. THat's why I know there were angels in the rafters."

I had left the school 12 years previously, but when you are part of the MCS community, you bleed when it bleeds. It was an incredible and tragic day.

I had a dream when I was in about grade 8 or 9 and in boarding. In the dream I looked out the window from the boarding hostel and saw three figures - clearly evil and with murderous intent walking up the same path the terrorists took through the school. I knew the figures in my dream were going to attack the hostel and try to kill us. It was terrifying.

As well as the terror, I also experienced the miracle. I knew what the little girl was talking about when she heard the angel choir music. I had an experience similar to it when I was in grade 7. I was doing my piano practice down in the basement and I was going through the hymns I had been learning. I didn't feel too happy that day - there were a few problems going on in our room upstairs and I felt lonely and up against it. When I played those hymns, there was someone singing along. More than one person as well. And it was beautiful. I think I heard those angels, years before the attack.

The school moved to Thailand immediately after the attack but has now returned to its Murree campus. It's not the same as it was when I went there, but it's still special. And I"m sure it probably needs some staff members - it always does! Want to go meet some angels?