07:45 hours this morning and an almost full moon in a clear sky whilst jogging over lightly snow covered Wimbledon Common as the sun was about to shine on the new year, was one of those great to be alive times - a really upbeat start to the new decade.
Fr. Michael Ashworth SJ's sermon at New Years day Mass was equally uplifting and thankfully took away the somewhat rose tinted classes through which the new dawn had been just been viewed.
He reminded the congregation of the celebrations that marked the turn of the New Millennium a decade earlier. Nelson Mandela in South Africa lit a candle on Robben Island which he passed to his successor SA president who in turn passed it on to a young child representing the new generation. In Sydney the fireworks ended with a flourish and the sky was lit up the the word "Eternity" following the years of that word mysteriously being written on the pavements of city and suburban Sydney by an impoverished down and out. In London we had the Millennium Dome, Tony Blair, some celebs. and all that was lit up were the words 'British Gas' which alas may have merely highlighted a lack of spirit in some aspects of London life at the time.
My thoughts after this slightly unusual part of Father Michael's words of wisdom are that despite the recession and shenanigans by some of our politicians following the turn of 2000, there are more grounds for optimism now in the UK than there were then.
The disaster of the Millennium Dome has been transformed into what is proving to be the successful, in its own terms, O2 venue. The mistakes made by bankers and mirrored by individuals in managing finance are a least being appreciated nationally and internationally. Acceptance of the fact of having made an error is the necessary first step to correcting it.
The fact that today's Mass on 01/01/10 was so well attended may be a sign that the spirit is not actually lacking despite appearances. A general election is due soon in the UK and whatever the outcome, a new broom seems likely; secular political change at least has the potential to breathe new life and spirit into a jaded population.In England child safeguarding seems to be becoming more of an issue of prevention in the future rather than that of disclosure of past institutional tragedies. Poverty is still with us but in relative terms is far less severe than in Charles Dickens'es day.
Abroad there is still much darkness and terrorism; wars, famine, global warming, repressive regimes but even there knowledge of such concerns may lead eventually to some cooperation in endeavouring to tackle them. Trying to work together even when failing can bring benefits of more community cohesion to those involved.
2010 and the decade to come should not be too bad and developments may surprise for the good eg out of Cern perhaps?.