Where will you be on St. Patrick’s Day? I’ll be in green amongst English friends watching Ireland play England in the last match of the Six Nations.
I’ll happily cheer for England in any other game, and why wouldn’t I. I’ve lived and worked here for 25 years, my wife is English and a local lad I know well, Jonny May, plays for England. Equally, my English friends support Ireland against other teams and it’s all great fun.
Though, there was one exception. A few years ago on the last day, Ireland played France and had Ireland lost, England would’ve won the Six Nation on points. Ireland easily won and allegiances slowly changed as the game wore on, which was hilarious.
How wonderful a world we would have if international rivalry could be conducted with the same intensity and friendliness as rugby. It could be the panacea for all engagement, not just between nations but between people. It does feel uncomfortable these days with so much shield banging going on around the world.
I reflected on that recently when I read this poem by Yehudi Amichai called “The Amen Stone”. Here’s an extract:
On my desk there is a stone with the word “Amen” on it,
a triangular fragment of stone from a Jewish graveyard destroyed
many generations ago.
But now the fragments are gathered up in loving kindness
by a sad good man. He cleanses them of every blemish,
photographs them one by one, arranges them on the floor
in the great hall, makes each gravestone whole again,
one again: fragment to fragment,
like the resurrection of the dead, a mosaic,
a jigsaw puzzle. Child’s play.
First published in Swindon Link