A really encouraging and affirming reaction to my thought for the day this morning, and so for some who asked, here is the text. Wonder would the same response be forthcoming if I had gone with the original idea of anticipating the Boss on Saturday??
You may have heard the story of the shady Norwegian town of Rjukan which is nestled deep in a valley and gets no sunshine between September and March each year. During those dark months, any resident who needs to feel some sunlight on their skin has to escape the gloom by jumping into a cable car which brings them to the top of the mountain and out into the light.
But recently, after decades of discussions a daring plan is coming to fruition on top of that mountain. Helicopters are lifting into place 100 sqm of mirrors and an elaborate system of sensors and pulleys to redirect the light of the sun down into the stygian depths of the village square.
The Italian village of Viganella did something similar a few years ago. At the centre of their dying village was a square which, as the mayor said, served as an outdoor living room for the whole village only it wasn’t used during the winter months and people’s health and relationships suffered. But with the visionary efforts of that energetic mayor, and in spite the sceptics who saw it as a joke, they did it. They installed a large mirror up the mountain and diverted sunlight to the square. They brought light to the darkness and now the village attracts visitors from all over the world to see how they did it.
The truth of these stories is that extraordinary ideas, which may seem demented on first glance, can transform peoples lives.
Now it’ll take more than a mirror on Cave Hill and a few hours of redirected sunshine to transform our darkness, but that shouldn’t stop us from dreaming, from conjuring up harebrained schemes, from daring to imagine how things should and could be different here.
And though it may not look like it this morning, I know that this community has many women and men of boundless daring, courage, generosity and sense of adventure who bring their creative juices and their considerable abilities not to cursing the darkness and bemoaning loss, but to bringing light. I know and work with many of them. And I see their commitment to the common good as they spend themselves daily to transform dark and dangerous streets into bright living space for everyone. We should cherish every one of them.
So how about it Belfast and Northern Ireland? Let’s not give up now on the aspiration to bring the light of peace and justice to the streets of our cities and towns, difficult though it might appear at the moment.