Yesterday a young girl asked me if there was a phoenix at Phoenix Park – an excellent question which made me realise how much I take for granted and how much I need to teach the younger generation about our local history.
The phoenix is an immortal bird associated with Greek mythology, a bird that regenerates or is born again, obtaining new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessors (Doctor Who is not especially original!) Some legends say it dies in a show of flames and combustion before being born again. Most children know of the bird through the Harry Potter series (‘The Order Of The Phoenix’)
The phoenix is a powerful symbol of hope and reminds us also of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Metaphorically speaking, the idea of the phoenix rising from the ashes means to emerge from disaster stronger and more successful than before.
Phoenix Park in Thurnscoe is situated on the site of Hicklenton Main Colliery, a source for almost 100 years of the prosperity of the Dearne Valley area. Its closure in 1988 was seen as a local catastrophe, leading to widespread unemployment and loss of status and purpose in the area. The creation of Phoenix Park from the rubble and waste of the colliery was seen as a metaphor for the area’s regeneration, as so it was named after the legendary bird.
There may be no physical phoenix on the site, but the whole park is a metaphorical, allegorical phoenix. Out of literal ashes has come a place of local serenity, beauty and peace (see Isaiah 61:3). We can’t wait to hold the Jubilee Fun Day there next Wednesday! (1 June, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.)