Literally nobody told us there’d be days like this. As Van Morrison gazed down Cyprus Avenue yesterday afternoon during his 70th Birthday concert I wondered had he ever dreamed of a day like this.
Most thoughts in Belfast yesterday were about Van Morrison. East Belfast was buzzing. The world it seemed had descended on one lovely street whose residents were setting up gazebos and inviting friends in for drinks and nibbles and to enjoy the soundtrack.
Even as the rain hit the streets exactly as Van hit the stage it didn’t change the celebratory mood. Singer Duke Special put up on social media “Just heard Van Morrison sing Hyndford Street on Cyprus Avenue in Belfast. Spine tingling.” It was.
Of course for me I am looking for the spiritual. We had done an entire Church service around Van’s songs on Sunday. He had shared in an interview over the weekend how he wouldn’t touch religion with a ten foot pole! My take is that he has kind of given up on the religious search that made his 80s and 90s albums so musically fascinating.
And yet… with Dana Masters amazing Gospel voice he gave us Whenever God Shines His Light and In The Garden lit up the soul in its prayer like meditation.
What us the 3 o’clock crowd missed was the most spiritual point of all that the 6 o’clock crowd got. At around 7.30 I was receiving texts “Holy Spirit bringing in the eternal presence of the NOW. Holy Spirit bring it on in.” It was during his encore Hyndford Street. It was that theme in his work from the song Cyprus Avenue to this gig on Cyprus Avenue. The eternal breaking in.
It is a wonderful antidote to John Lennon’s Imagine there’s no heaven. Van is imagining that there is and asking what it would mean if it entered now. Jesus prayed “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” heaven on earth, on Cyprus Avenue on Hyndford Street, in Stormont Castle or whatever avenue, road or street we are on today. Holy Spirit bring it on in. Amen Van. Preach it!