No More Soulless Towns

Today I read a report of the Queensferry Business Association, which seeks to transform this fragile Burgh, gateway to the iconic Forth Bridge, and the crossing point of St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland. It's Development Plan is called Queensferry Ambition. This is what I emailed its chairman, Douglas Flett:

I have just read your report in the evangelical alliance's 2gether Scotland on the plans for transforming Queensferry. While appreciating the excellent aims, I felt a sinking in the pit of my stomach that foundation planning has no mention of spirituality. Soulless towns have built-in degradation. Every resident has body, mind and spirit, and if these needs are not addressed, surely the plan will fail?

For example, the centre of a town needs a sense of enclosure and some sacred space where people can contemplate or pray. Existing religious buildings need to be opened and joined up with other facilities. Throughout Europe, while church-going declines, pilgrimages increase steeply.

Ireland's Heritage Council sent teams to learn from British heritage sites, and I read their reports. I think they concluded that, although they learned some valuable technical lessons from the British approaches, they hoped that Ireland, in contrast, would co-ordinate historical, ecological and spiritual approaches in their heritage work.

Why not commission a study on pilgrimage and spirituality issues? Why not offer a trail that re-ignites awareness of Margaret, Queen and Saint?

My friend Dr. Ian Bradley, of St. Andrew's University, whose book on pilgrimage has just been published, might be of assistance.

Members of The Community of Aidan and Hilda in Scotland had a day of pilgrimage at Queensferry and Inchcolm. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is now beginning to get people who walk and ferry southward along Scotland's east coast.

Posted at 03:54am on 20th March 2009
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