Thursday, 19 May 2011

A Bowed Head

Symbolic gestures at the right time carry great power.

Such was a small gesture made by Queen Elizabeth two days ago, a few hours into her visit to Ireland.  After laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, she stepped back and bowed her head. 

For my readers outside Ireland, the Garden of Remembrance honours those who died in Ireland's struggle for freedom from British rule. Now a nation watched as the British monarch showed respect to those who had fought to break free.

Many people told me that they were deeply moved by the sight.  A friar, with strong republican leanings, said tears came to his eyes with that bow.

The right gestures indeed carry power, and can be bearers of transforming grace.

I am reminded of a passage in the Second Eucharistic Prayer of Reconciliation:

'Your Spirit changes our hearts... those who were estranged join hands in friendship, and nations seek the way of peace together. Your Spirit is at work when understanding puts an end to strife, when hatred is quenched by mercy, and vengeance gives way to forgiveness.'

The Spirit was at work in that gesture, in that bowed head.