Gary Lightbody, Damian Gorman, Ken Haddock, Anthony Toner, Tommy Sands… The word is out. The 8th Annual 2020 4 Corners Festival programme went live on the site this morning. Expect to catch us sneaking press coverage in the next wee while.
It all started out so simply. Back in 2012 Fr Martin Magill and I were chatting over coffee in his Presbytery House in Lenadoon when we came up with the crazy idea of a Festival. As I keep saying, “We don’t have a PhD in festivals”. Martin always chimes in, “We don’t have PhDs in anything!”
It was an audacious idea to bring people out of their corner and discover their city. It was about finding safe space for people who might never meet to form friendships. It was about seeing Jesus as a contributor to peace rather than being blamed for our divisions.
We gathered around us some passionate and peace making likeminded folk and over these last seven festivals we have watched it all coming to fruition. Most years I find myself looking across a hall to catch Fr Martin’s eye and we share a look that says, “Can you believe this. How did it all happen!” We have even just been nominated for an Aisling Award for Positive Belfast! We didn’t win but neither did the Glider!
So 4CF2020? This year we are keen to build up the morale of our wounded and wonderful city. No Stormont for almost three years, Brexit and all that uncertainty and a city perhaps more polarised that it has been in a while.
Into that unsteadiness under our feet, with our souls a little helpless, apathetic and down we would like to offer events that remind us of who we are and what we can become. We are calling it Building A City Of Grace. Let us reveal some different faces of Belfast that can make our faces smile, our souls shine and our hearts heal.
Grace. Now there is a word. U2 sing about it - “A name for a girl and a thought that can change the world.” Snow Patrol sing about it and I will be asking Gary Lightbody about that in our In Conversation event.
Grace for me is about unmerited love being lavished on neighbour and indeed enemy. It is about a generosity of spirit that Belfast has shown across centuries. If we can harness it again then we might build our city into what the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah asked us to pray for - a city of peace and prosperity!