Notebook

Melissa Kite: The riding accident that showed God exists

I was only there at the right time because my horse caught its feet on that trap (PA)

Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous. I’ve always liked that saying. Whenever an atheist assaults me with the usual lament – “If God exists, prove it. If God exists, how come he has never shown himself to me?” – I always tell them I find it astonishing they can’t see what’s staring them in the face.

Maybe it is just that people who are lucky enough to already have faith are more attuned to picking up on the little things that happen every day that build and affirm faith. But I have always found life to be full of what one might call Godincidences.

The other day, my horse Grace misjudged a tiger trap while out drag hunting and caught her back legs on the fence. When the field of horses came to a stop soon after, I leapt off to examine her. Finding not even a scratch, I breathed a sigh of relief.

But before I could get back on, there was a loud scream to the side of me, and when I turned round a horse was on the ground with its teenage rider trapped underneath it. The horse had evidently had a freak heart attack, which was shocking enough, but the screams of the trapped girl begging for help were the truly terrible thing.

For some reason, only three people had the presence of mind to leap off their horses. The rest of the field sat astride their mounts seemingly frozen. Sometimes during an accident a sort of collective inertia takes hold among the onlookers, when everyone assumes it is someone else’s place to help. Or perhaps they couldn’t quite see what was happening and mistakenly thought that someone had simply fallen off and that enough people were helping.

Perhaps if I had still been on my horse I would also have sat frozen.

As it was, I was on the ground right next to her, so I grabbed the horse’s neck strap and started pulling with every bit of strength in me. The three other people pulled the girl from their side and somehow the four of us parted the dying horse from the trapped teenager before it broke her back. When she was out she got to her feet, sobbing for her horse but otherwise all right.

Later, it was sobering to wonder how crucial had been my pulling on the neck strap, and strange to think that I was only in the right place at the right time because my horse caught its feet on that tiger trap.

When I look back on similar moments of Godincidence, one in particular stands out. A couple of years ago, my boyfriend Will was walking down a busy country lane without a pavement where the cars always drive too fast. As he neared a bend in the road, his phone rang and it was me on the line. I have no idea why I decided to call him at that moment, because all I said was “What are you up to?” But before I said that, he had to stop walking to answer his phone.

And seconds after he did so, a car came off the road on a bend, ran up the verge and smashed into the hedge a few yards ahead of him. If he hadn’t stopped to answer the phone, he would have been a few yards further on and the car would have hit him.

I don’t think I’m psychic. I think this is proof that there is some kind of guiding force, that it is not just chaos out there, and that every now and then, that force likes to remind us that He is there – if we are able to hear him – so that we can have a little more faith.

When atheists say “Prove God exists”, some believers say “Prove he doesn’t exist”. But one might be better off saying, “Yes, sure. No problem. I can prove God exists, 100 per cent I can.” And then tell them the story of whatever so-called coincidence has happened to you that week.

I suspect that even the angriest atheist knows deep down that there are no coincidences. The universe is not a random explosion. We are spiritual beings in search of our true purpose each day, be it big or small. “A funny thing happened …” we say to each other.

But on some level we know full well we are taking part in “God’s incidents”.

Melissa Kite is a journalist and author