Thoughts on the Day of Reflection…

TODAY is the 21 June 2023 and what most people will be blithely unaware of, is that here in NI /the north of Ireland, it is a day for collective reflection. The day has been marked as a ‘Day of Reflection’ here since 2007, although I only became aware of it two years ago. It is a day that gets little press, by design. Why the 21 June? Well, it was chosen as it is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, where there is more light than dark.

I attended the Annual Day of Reflection at Belfast City Hall today. It was held in a beautiful, light space. There were art stations to create something out of your reflections. There were quiet corners. There was a cuppa and space for conversation. There was a poetry reading. The poem was ‘At the End of the Day: A Mirror of Questions’ by John O’Donohue and line from it really resonated with me, “What did I begin today that might endure?”.

We are so very good a remembering here in our little corner of the world, but I feel we are not very good at reflecting. At looking at where we are right now. Seeing what is happening around us. We are so preoccupied with the past sometimes that we neglect to see the here and now. Part of the reflection of today was “what more we might have done or might still do”. There is still so much needing doing.

After the event, standing in The Reflection Space within the City Hall, it’s bright white walls displaying quotations from a collection of personal testimonies from people affected by the events in NI/the north of Ireland, I wondered why these events and spaces are not known to the people here. Why are days like this not spoken of in the mainstream media? Why do we not hear of those around us_ our neighbours, colleagues, family and friends _who are out there doing something today that might endure in building bridges rather than deepening divides?

It is interesting that this Day of Reflection falls just before what is traditionally one of our most fraught months on the calendar. July looms large, with many preparing to depart for a few weeks, to skip the madness that may or may not unfold. Perhaps if more people stopped and reflected in June, July would look and feel a little different? If we begin today to make something that might endure, a society that reflects and remembers together as one wholly affected group, we might just make a better tomorrow.

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