Mourning the Azure Window

Perhaps the silver lining of this national disaster could be a renewed effort to preserve and treasure the unspoiled nature that still remains, and making it accessible to more people

19 March 2017, 10:28am
Perhaps the silver lining of this national disaster could be a renewed effort to preserve and treasure the unspoiled nature that still remains, and making it accessible to more people
Perhaps the silver lining of this national disaster could be a renewed effort to preserve and treasure the unspoiled nature that still remains, and making it accessible to more people
Malta sweet Malta. My home-away-from-home. I am heartbroken over your loss. All our loss, really.
This overweight, athletically challenged American had the privilege of studying at the University of Malta back in 1993/94. I was in great part privileged because I had befriended Maltese nature and culture-lovers, who forced me to get off my derrière and hike and camp and abseil.

They were ahead of their time in the early 90s in terms of camping, hiking, diving, biking, parachuting, climbing, abseiling, spelunking, kayaking, and archeology-exploring around the country’s three main islands – at a time when getting out into the countryside typically meant going to parks and enjoying family time there. Or hunting birds.

But not the ups and downs and scary cliffs of Malta’s rugged coastline.
Two of these early outdoorsmen, Andrew Galea and Bernard Bonnici, would eventually start up a barely-for-profit Malta outdoors outfit, which would introduce Malta’s nature and culture to a great many European and American tourists from abroad. As well as Maltese tourists from within. 

When I was visiting my home-away-from-home again last November, I noticed a great many bikers, walkers, and climbers that just weren’t there 25 years ago. They were taking in the incredible array of nature and culture outside of Valletta and the Three Cities. All, I believe, thanks to Bernie and Drew, who have steady jobs outside of their Malta Outdoors eco-vocation.
If a MaltaToday article has not yet been written on them – and about their singular importance in creating outdoors activity, tourism and culture in the country – it really should at this time. Especially as the country considers what to do to satisfy a tourism niche left vacant with the very sad vanishing of the Azure Window. 

I believe these and other outdoorsmen would have some intriguing ideas in answering “What now?”;
I also believe that their ideas would not entail replacing one natural widow tourist spot with another.

Malta has long been vexed with significant tourism pollution that comes with the rich tourism economy. I believe these godfathers of eco-appreciation would be against the further marring of Malta’s incredible nature with quick-replacement interpretative centres, awkward out-of-place art projects, and tourist traps.

Perhaps the silver lining of this national disaster could be a renewed effort to preserve and treasure the unspoiled nature that still remains, and making it accessible to more people. Including stemming development that covers up more and more of Malta’s beautiful countryside, as beautiful in its own right as the Azure Window. 

Believe me, there are many Europeans, Chinese, Japanese and Americans who would love to come to Malta to join Maltese in hiking a coastal park system around all three islands.

True, bus-only tourists might be a little too frenzied in sightseeing, and unsure of their footing, to hike such a coastal trail park. But they will, from moving seats high above Malta’s walled roads, enjoy the overall absence of human intrusion on Malta’s natural beauty.

I remain, like a great many around the world, saddened at the world’s loss. But there is a silver lining here. I hope Malta embraces it.

Rev. Paul Jarvis, Minneapolis, MN

Offensive to Catholics

I would like to express my disgust at the title given to a recent play ‘Fl-Isem tal-Missier u ta’ l-Iben u ta’ l-ispettur Bonnici’. I found it offensive and subtle and seemed aimed to ridicule the Blessed Trinity, which is the pillar of our Catholic Faith. 

How different is the gentle attitude of the mystic St Elizabeth of the Trinity, who used to call the Blessed Trinity “my Three” and she also says that she literally felt that the Blessed Trinity dwelt in her.

But in the long run we are the losers since God is God. Allow me to quote some verses from Scripture that in my opinion fit this occasion.

‘“The Lord’s enemies will be destroyed; he will thunder against them from heaven.” 1 Sam 2, 10 ( il-Mulej iwerwru lil min jeħodha miegħu).

“Those who are angry with You will know the shame of defeat” Isaia 41,11 (Ara, għad jistħu u jitriegħxu, dawk kollha li nkurlaw għalik;) and; (Ħażin għal min jitlewwem ma’ Min għamlu. Is 45, 9

Maybe we need to hear the words of the wise Gamaliel: “You could find yourselves fighting against God” Acts 5, 39.  (Araw li ma ssibux ruħkom li qegħdin teħduha kontra Alla! Is, 45,9)

If I were to insult a minister or any other on the newspaper, I would be summoned, chastised, and what not. And yet we dare to abuse God’s name! Thankfully we have a loving Father in heaven who is always ready to cast away our shortcomings. 

Sr Rose Rizzo, Tarxien

Salutary effects of faith

The world is eternally intoxicated by strife, global conflicts, a myriad of creeds, fear of the future and phobia of annihilation.

A very recent research has unveiled how religion helps in such scenarios. People strive to find solace somewhere especially when there are no medical answers. It is here that faith provides hope when everything seems hopeless. Faith is the ultimate link between man and God.

St Augustine acknowledged that “faith must precede reason and purify the heart and make it fit to receive and endure the great light of reason” though in certain circumstances reason must precede faith. He also exhorted us to “seek not to understand that you may believe but believe that you may understand”.

But what’s more so easy of acceptance, so benign, so glorious than the words of thankfulness by Cardinal Newman.

“What joy and what thankfulness should be ours that God has endowed us with this divine virtue. What gift is equal to it in the whole world in its preciousness and in its rarity?... To find ourselves in the region of light, in the home of peace, in the presence of saints, to find ourselves in the possession of certainty, consistency, stability, in the highest and holiest subjects of human thought, to have hope here and heaven hereafter”.

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

While the poor world is guessing and quarrelling at the foot of the Cross, who shall not be awe-struck at the inscrutable grace of God, which has brought him, not others, where he stands?

John Azzopardi, Zabbar