Hearing the news of Martin McGuinness death this morning caused me to reflect on how we make peace and move on. For so many years Northern Ireland was a by word for hatred and tragedy. The violence spread to the mainland, I still remember that fateful day when an IRA bomb exploded in the centre of Manchester, thank God nobody died. Let’s be honest to sit down with your enemies is a brave thing , but it is a strategic move as well. Both sides needed peace, both sides needed to be able to portray the resultant deal as a victory. However, there were and still are many grieving people on both sides whose lives have been shattered by the past violence. That they hold their grief in silence, yet support a process of reconciliation, is an example of how we can forgive and move on. N Ireland is in a much better place now, the past can never be forgotten, nor the hurt simply magicked away, but the future looks brighter. True peace can only be built with honesty and maturity and with a willingness to sit down with your enemies and talk. There is always a way forward. Thank God people like the Rev’d Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness had the courage to do so, Ireland is a better place for their conversations and compromises.
Perhaps the Church could learn to do the same.
I hope your journeys through Lent are going well and that you have managed to settle into a routine with whatever you have decided to do, or perhaps refrain from doing. We reach the half-way mark during this week, so keep up the good work!
I have just received an email from the Christian charity Tearfund, telling me that it is World Poetry Day on Tuesday of this week. One of their number, Isobel Peaty, has written a poem entitled ‘When you turn’. I have reproduced the first verse below:
When you turn –
When you turn to me just for a moment, remembering
That I am here – wanting, and longing, and waiting
To see you, like all those who love you, yet stronger –
Impossibly stronger – for I alone witness
That heart-hidden treasure that catches my light
When you turn.
I have found these words lovely to reflect on during my quiet time.
With every blessing
As part on my curate’s training, last week I spent a day in Southall to learn about “interfaith awareness”. It’s quite impressive to be able to stand at a crossroads and see from a single spot the C of E parish church, a Pentecostal church, two Sikh Gurdwaras, a Hindu temple and a mosque. There is no doubt that God is very important to the people who live and work there. I was struck by the contrast with a French novel I am reading at the moment called The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère, in which the writer looks back on a period of his life when for a few years he was a convinced Roman catholic before abandoning the faith. Is it because he is a Parisian intellectual or despite the fact he is one, that he seems unaware of all the unstated rationalist and materialist assumptions underlying his scepticism? My trip to Southall reminded me that if we abandon religion we lack the ability to understand what is central to the lives of the vast majority of people on this planet.