Belfast, when a city was a friend

a journey on the rainbow bridge - by Iva B.

Long time ago I used to be in love with Belfast, and I miss that sometimes, because that love helped me to know who I was. We get to know and we get to love places when we pray for them. You get to know them more intimately than you would know a lover, because in prayer you learn to let go of yourself, and all your love is directed towards the ‘other’. At least that’s how (I think) I used to prayed; I no longer do. I remember a time when I would go anywhere in Ireland and I could ‘see’ how much it is loved. I could see its beauty more than a natural phenomenon, but rather as a place that is saturated with God’s presence and God’s love. I miss that. I can still bring it up with an effort of remembering, but then it was effortless. I did not think about it or made myself feel in a certain way. It was a given. The difference is, I was never able to talk about it, it would overwhelm me even if I tried. Now, I can talk about it, but the feeling has been drained out.

Thomas Merton said many wise things, and this is just one of them that resonates: “There is a silent self within us whose presence is disturbing precisely because it is so silent: it can’t be spoken. It has to remain silent. To articulate it, to verbalise it, is to tamper with it, and in some ways to destroy it”.  Perhaps that’s what happened, perhaps not.

Writing about it is as if I am writing about someone else, and not my own life. As if I lived through an era to its fullness and then new chapters opened up. Below is a poem I wrote about Belfast nine years ago. Reading it again after many years made me smile. When you pray for a place, and then you bring your feet to where you prayers have been, you realise it’s not only you who know it, no, the place in some strange way knows you too. And you can never loose that, no matter what.

My Belfast

My Belfast is green with hills tenderly touching their valleys

My Belfast is a garden of hope

In him only cheerful parades march

He trusts in peace, on his streets and corners

Irish music plays day and night, at all times.

In my Belfast silence is not dead,

Nor is there a terrorist drama being played in it


My Belfast has no walls that prevent extending our

Vision towards heaven

Nor are there stones or blocks that stumble our

Steps while we walk


My Belfast has to come

He lives in my heart

Rains cry of him coming

And rainbows are awaken to make people move

To see beyond the enmity threats

Beyond fights

Rainbows have the mission of peace

Of rest

They call our hearts to trust


My Belfast is green with hills that gently kiss

The river with their mouth

My Belfast is emerging from the deep dark

. . .

Before my Belfast had to come

But now he appears before our sight

He is becoming

He comes from within

Like spring

My Belfast lives in God’s heart

In his garden the most beautiful roses grow

Fragrance of hope

City emerging from the dark

My Belfast

Is a home of hope

He has a heart that smiles

The laughter of giants is in his air

My Belfast is such a beautiful wee fella

With no compare

My Belfast is green with Cave hill and

The Lagan

He is emerging

He is here

He invites us to emerge with him


My Belfast is becoming

And so are we


© Iva Beranek (poem from 2007, the rest 31st May 2016)
Photo by © Iva Beranek


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