By Bishop Alastair
In Spain a word you frequently hear is Mira – meaning look, pay attention. People use it in everyday speech to emphasise what they want to communicate. In Latin Miraculum means to see something wonderful – a miracle: a particular experience of looking or paying attention.
We spend all our working hours seeing things – a bewildering variety of sights. We need to interpret and order them to make sense of life. We soon learn to place things appropriately. But then, there is something exciting about seeing new things – a doorway to new thoughts, ideas, aspirations.
Much of the modern communications industry plays upon this desire and the pleasure it can give. We live in a world of competing images – invitations to look, closely. Everyone and every product or organisation seems to be saying mira – look, pay attention.
Within this welter of invitations and possibilities we need to offer our churches. As ‘tourism’ becomes an ever more sophisticated packaging of things to ‘see’ and experience, we have a special treasure. Churches offer a totally different, unique, kind of space, atmosphere, invitation. Space that is open, design that raises our sights, images that bring together the realities of suffering and death with the hopes to see beyond them into a glory of living for ever; moments in which prayer and praise invite the heart to be honest, hopeful and more confident in a sense of calling and direction.
Our churches offer an invitation not just as mira – look, pay attention. More – and most vitally, our churches offer an opportunity to see something wonderful – miraculum: with our eyes, in our hearts, into our souls.
Whatever the competition in our image obsessed society, God had given us pearls of great value.
Our churches can speak for themselves: sometimes our efforts of interpretation can help with translation! We must do our utmost to make them available to others: mira, miraculum: miracles in Derbyshire. A precious ingredient within the tourist offer of the second most visited county in England.
I commend all who strive to enable this offering, and pray that through our efforts the grace of God may be made more manifest for all whose tourism is a search for something wonder-ful.