Sunday, May 8, 2011

Of princes, presidents, parliamentarians, and presents

A week of history-making of major significance, magnificence and achievement.

A week in which a small thoughtful gift gave me great pleasure, and hope.

Last week I wrote about spending the royal wedding day antiquing with a friend. After a surfeit of pre-wedding photos, biographies, histories, analysis and speculation, the ‘big’ day seemed almost an anti-climax. In any case I knew it would be shown again and again, should I want to see any of the celebrations.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in favour of the monarchy. Of the continuity of history, the stability, the holding together of a nation above the petty divide of party politics, the enduring mystique and pageantry.

After all I spent my childhood and formative early adult years in Britain. Though as a Welshwoman I was always hoping for a green passport with a red dragon emblazoned on it. 

The Queen herself says it is a job, upholding the commitment and legacy of the family firm; which she does with grace, fortitude and an air of apparent unfaltering interest.  I wish the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, a city I lived close to and know well, all happiness, I just find it impossible to be interested in the minutiae of everyday royal lives. Of the glimpses of the wedding I caught, what moved me most was the glory of Westminster Cathedral, its soaring architecture testament to centuries of belief.

The remainder of the seven days past were about defying the odds on terrorism, on securing a mandate to lead a country. About partisanship, about glory. Whether recognising the end of bin Laden’s terror-focused life or the sea-change in Canadian politics, there is always the right versus left, elephant versus donkey, red versus blue that frequently becomes bigger than the real achievement or outcome. And neither am I remotely interested in the daily lives of politicians, presidents or prime ministers. So often the early hopes dim and fade, the colours lose their initial brightness, the music fades away.

The enduring image of my week is the picture at the beginning of this week’s diary.

One of my students recently went to visit his family in Japan. They are safe but he witnessed his country in deep sadness and loss. Though as he said the Japanese people have found strength and survived through unimaginable horrors before.

With all this on his mind he still had the graceful thought to bring me back a gift, of incense. I lit it as a prayer for peace.

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