I went to a very special bake sale yesterday afternoon.

It was organized by the parents’ association at AAH’s school. You paid a fee at the door and you got to eat at will from a long table laden heavy with cakes and other goodies. At 3 o’clock there was an exquisite puppet show, given by a German puppeteer who lives here in Iceland, followed by an auction of beautiful artwork donated by various artists and artisans.

All the proceeds went to a young boy in AAH’s school. This boy has had to contend with a tragedy more horrible than any of us would care to imagine. Nine months ago, in the middle of the night, his mother stabbed his sister to death and attempted to kill him, and herself. He managed to escape and to alert a neighbour. When police arrived his sister was fatally wounded, but his mother was alive.

You can believe that this dreadful tragedy shook our little nation to the core. Such events are most fortunately relatively uncommon here, and in such a small community everyone knows at least someone with a direct link to the family.

Some media coverage was inevitable, but fortunately it has been within the limits of decency. Until recently, that is, when daily paper DV – which a few months ago was resurrected as a trashy tabloid type of press, the likes of which Iceland has heretofore not seen – ran a story about the unfortunate mother, digging up something unseemly from her past.

The family’s pastor went on television and implored the press to please show some compassion and restraint. Behind the tragedy, he said, there were real people who were hurting. It was a very moving interview – quiet, serene, and went straight to the core of anyone with any semblance of empathy.

It’s no coincidence that the announcement of this particular bake sale should come so soon afterwards. It came via an email sent by the vice-principal of the school, and it was clearly stated that all media would be turned away and no cameras were permitted. The purpose, it said, was to provide the boy with both financial and moral support.

When we showed up yesterday at the little café run by the church, the place was packed. The woman collecting the money – an acquaintance of mine – told me that they had not expected nearly so many people: they’d counted on maybe 100 but this was close to 400. And people were not just paying the ISK 500 suggested – they were asking to donate up to 10 times as much.

It was an amazing afternoon. The church café – which just recently opened and is beautiful – airy and bright – was the perfect setting. The shadows of the tragedy that precipitated this event were far, far away. Instead the atmosphere was filled with joy, kindness, compassion. It was a remarkable thing to witness. And I, for one, felt privileged to take part. Because when something like that touches you, it’s so important to have an opportunity to do something. Even if it is just to show up and quietly demonstrate your support.

Is still calm and mild. Today we even had sunny patches. (And also some showers.) Temps are currently 4°C here in the capital. Set to get colder tonight and tomorrow. Sunrise was at Set to get colder tonight and tomorrow. Sunrise was at 8.42; sunset about 20 minutes ago at 18.40.