I was never sure if I was a royalist or a republican, a unionist, a nationalist or an internationalist and not even sure if it really mattered. Maybe I have been all of them at some point. But there have been moments in time when a dormant emotion breaks through and feelings come to the surface, feelings I never knew were there. It was one such occasion late afternoon yesterday. I never thought much about our late Queen, yet when I heard of her passing, which you can hardly say was unexpected, I was pulling back the tears and was at a loss to know why.
What was it that triggered something deep within me? It was not the loss of someone, for I never knew her. It was not giving way to the power of collective grief or the possible impact that it might have on my individual insignificant life. It was something else. It was the beauty, the beauty of a life, a flawed life, that pointed to, and aspired to, a greater beauty, to the virtues of dignity, honesty, truthfulness, faithfulness, loyalty, justice, integrity, humility and compassion.
And if it was indeed loss that moved me, it was an awareness that we had already lost so much of these virtues in our national life and the symbol that seemed still to retain them was now gone.
It’s beauty that makes me want to cry.