From one Place to Another...

As I suggested in my previous piece I had planned to post a number of things this week, not least a backlog of Thought for the Days that I have done over the past 4 weeks, but I didn't, and given that they were "Thoughts for the Day" and those days are past, it hardly matters...
But part of the reason I wanted to blog and ironically couldn't is because we were approaching and now are already in the midst of the 4 Corners Festival... which this year has the theme "Now. Here. This."
We started the festival in the midst of the Shankill at St. Michael's Church of Ireland Parish Church, with "20 Years On - A Conflict Frozen in Time". Hundreds from all over the city and beyond crammed into that hall in an area of the city that isn't on the tourist map... indeed one of our organisers in relying on a well known online mapping system got almost irrevocably lost, proving the orignial point of our Festival ie. to get people out of their different corners to explore different parts of this city. They came on this occasion to look at the place of loyalism in the run up to the 1998 peace agreements, and top ask where that drive for peace and reconciliation in progressive loyalism is today? There seemed to be a lot of looking at the past and perhaps not so much of the "Now. Here. This" and there is perhaps room for a further event... However, as artist Colin Davidson pointed out towards the end for many of those affected by the troubles that he painted for his "Silent Testimony" series, the past remains the present... So how can we move things on in the here and now whilst still recognising the pain of victims and survivors? Perhaps we will be able to do more of that when we move to St. John's Roman Catholic Parish on the Falls Road on Thursday night to hear the stories of Alan McBride and Stephen Travers, whose lives were indelibly marked by two terrorist atrocities.
Last night it was a very different venue... as far from a church environment as it was possible to get... the Oh Yeah Music Centre in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, for "Take Back the City: Post Ceasefire Songs". A night of music by Iain Archer, Joby Fox, Ursula Burns and Tony Wright, compered by music journalist Stuart Bailie. We enjoyed songs old and new, and old songs with a new twist... there was laughter, poignancy and a little anger, or at least frustration, at times in the music... 
And tonight, just around the corner we have another, very different music event, "Hear Us Now" in the cathedral which gives this cultural quarter it's name... with choirs from across the city, each one coming together for different reasons, health concerns, explicit community relations reasons or purely for the love of singing. 
St. Anne's Cathedral is also the second of the 2 Cathedrals in our "Tale of Two Cathedrals" walk this afternoon... starting at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral off the bottom of the Falls Road at 3pm... Of course the title of this event is an echo of Dickens "Tale of Two Cities" which begins "It was the best of times it was the worst of times" and both of our cathedrals in this one yet divided city have experienced the worst of times over the years... But I hope that this afternoon and evening will fit into the "best of times" bracket...
But as we move around this city... Be it from church to church labelled with the names of various saints, Michael, John, Peter, Anne et al, or to other places and spaces within the "parishes" of those churches where "the gospel" is rarely talked of... the question for me is how can we ALL move forward, how can we all experience a more hopeful, inclusive, fair future, rather than what we have experienced in the past. That is the question we have to address in the here and now...

Further information on all of the festival events can be found at 4cornersfestival.com

Shalom

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