In each of these festivals, there have been moments where, for me, in a heartbeat, it felt like we had all been transported from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from the mundane to the divine;
In the tent amidst Buddhist relics dating over 2,000 years, I sat at a table on which was placed a book with Tibetan script. As I picked up a gold pen and traced the letters, I felt an inexplicable sense of calm and wellbeing. I looked around me and noticed that as visitors were walking around the relics, hardly any one spoke but that everyone had a small smile playing on their lips.
The life sized replica of the Shroud of Turin was an illustration of the brutality that man is capable of doing to another and yet, the face it bore emanated a sense of love and peace that I saw move many to tears.
Waleed, a young Muslim geometer, who had flown over from Lahore in Pakistan to contribute to ‘The Sacred Arts of Islam’ festival shared with those present how he had visited many paradise gardens around the world. Islamic gardens are designed, according to tradition, to represent the original Garden of Eden. There was a moment when he placed his hand upon his heart and told us that the Chalice Well garden was the truest paradise garden he had ever prayed in.
Liam O’Maonlai (Hothouse Flowers) and Lisa Lamb are true Celtic souls. Both Irish musicians, their songs and music uplifted all who attended their extraordinary concert during the ‘Heart of the Celtic Spirit’ festival. The concert had happened to fall on the feast day of Pentecost (a significant day in the Christian calendar when the Holy Spirit is said to have descended on the disciples of Jesus). You really had to have been there to fully experience the sense of joy when all the voices of the audience came together as one to sing with Liam and Lisa:
‘We follow a winding path
Through towns of tears in laughter
Moved by the one spirit
And the spirit's moving faster
Closer as the great eagle soars
And we follow...steady
Steady as she goes
And every cry is a song
And every song is a prayer
And our prayer must be heard
Fill the air’