A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. In terms of Irish and British history this photograph is of momentous importance. The former IRA man, now Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, shakes hands and greets Queen Elizabeth II. Ten, twenty, thirty years ago this would have been impossible. The Queen of England was seen as the enemy by many in Northern Ireland, and Martin McGuinness and his colleagues were regarded as terrorists in the UK, their voices banned from the airwaves.
Many in Northern Ireland are delighted: without renouncing their hopes for the future of Northern Ireland, whatever they may be, they see this moment as one in which the peace and reconciliation they seek may well become a lasting reality for them. Others are furious - a small group of extreme Republicans who still set their hearts on bombing the British off the island of Ireland. And no doubt there are people who are hurt (Nationalists, Republicans, Loyalists) whose relations have been killed in the dreadful conflict which cast a shadow over our two countries.
Queen Elizabeth has cause to among those who were hurt - her cousin Lord Mountbatten was killed in the conflict, blown up on his boat off the coast of Sligo. Lord Mountbatten regularly visited the Republic - he loved the country and our people. In this photograph note Mountbatten's nephew, Prince Philip, stands behind his wife - he adored his uncle, and yet here he is smiling and waiting his turn to shake Martin McGuinness's hand.
I think there is a lesson in forgiveness here for all of us. I realise that no one community can claim superiority in terms of loss and victims in the conflict in Northern Ireland - they have all suffered. Too much blood has been spilled: there are other ways to resolve differences and as Christians we should all look to Jesus Christ and follow him and his teachings as we look for a way forward.