In a big busy community like the Dock, things are always in a constant state of flux: new meetings, fresh friendships, hellos, goodbyes, so-happy-you-could-cry moments, so-sad-you-could-cry moments, and a constant stream of new faces.

IMG_6062So it’s a big moment when one of our longest-lasting familiar faces moves on to pastures new.  So, all together: JORRRDDAAAAANNNNN!!!!

Jordan has been part of Dock Cafe life ever since the doors first opened – or very nearly!  He reckons his first  visit was on our second-ever day of business along with his mates from college.

And actually working!Jordan and his gang used to take up residence in the “dark corner of iniquity” on the old black leather sofas hidden behind the pillar in the gloomiest corner of the cafe (anyone else remember when Dock Cafe looked like this?!)

2014-05-09 09.03.19Partly as payment for all the coffees and cakes they wolfed down in the dark corner of iniquity, Jordan became a Dock volunteer (one of the very first students to sign up!) after he finished college.  Then he became a Dock intern through the Youth Employment Scheme, and by the time of the Giro Big Start back in 2014 Jordan was practically able to run the cafe by himself (with great support and mentorship from James – for those of you old enough to remember the Karate Kid, they called each other ‘Kohai’ and ‘Sensai’.)

2014-05-09 08.47.56Never one to miss a rising star, Andy in the Mace spotted Jordan’s potential too and soon he was juggling Dock volunteer/intern times with shifts in the shop next door.   So anyone who has lived in, worked in or visited the Titanic Quarter in the last couple of years has almost definitely been served a Dock cuppa, a Mace newspaper or a Green Deli sandwich by Jordan at some stage!  His constant smile and gravity-defying hair have been part of daily life in the Titanic Quarter and he has been foundational in the friendships, the faith stories and the family atmosphere of the place right the way through.

pint-t-shirtsSo on his last day before heading off to uni in Manchester – we’ll just take a moment to salute one of the absolute stars of Dock life.  (In your best Maximus-from-Gladiator voice): The student who became a volunteer.  The volunteer who became an intern.  The intern who became a sales assistant.  The sales assistant who became a TQ legend.  We will have our tea & buns – in this life or the next!

A wee break and a wee thought

Aaaand relax!  The Dock gang are taking a very very very very very very very well-earned break for a few days from 11th-13th July:
Dpck closing

Not to make you feel guilty or anything, volunteers, but on Wednesday morning while you’re still lying abed for many’s the long hour, I’ll be up and at’em at BBC HQ, ready for another Thought (I am having Thoughts on a weekly basis these days, it’s quite alarming)

Last week I was Thinking about the whole area of failing well and daring to take risks:

FullSizeRender-3Just over a year ago, I started my own business. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. If you know anybody who has started from scratch with their own idea, scrabbled around in the dirt to build something from the ground up – give them a hug today and tell them they’re doing great. I can pretty much guarantee they will need it.

The journey of my first year in business is one that I’m sure is shared by many – a daydream, an idea, some planning, the decision to go for it – lots of excitement and energy and then the bite of reality – red tape, broken promises, long days, sleepless nights.

The monster under the bed of those sleepless nights is one of our most primal fears: the fear of failure. It is a strong monster, a powerful fear. You don’t have to have started a business to feel its sting: if you offer your heart to someone, you risk being rejected; if you make a stand on something you care about, or start turning your daydreams into reality, or try to change the world in even the tiniest of ways, there’s the possibility that you might fail. And therefore there’s the possibility that you won’t even try.

The Harry Potter author JK Rowling recently said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all, in which case you’ve failed by default.”

How can we change our culture in Northern Ireland to be better at failing well? We’re a bit dour as a people; watching someone or something fail tends to produce in us a weary shrug and a bit of “I told you so”. We built an unsinkable ship, and it sank. We’re not naturally predisposed to believe that the world can change – or especially, that I can change it. And social media sometimes seems to be set up to enjoy pointing and laughing at every mistake that might go viral with that devastating word “FAIL’

61M07J7WS5L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Is there an open door in your life which you might step through today if it wasn’t for the fear of failure? On his way to inventing the lightbulb, Thomas Edison is reputed to have said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Or you can live by my favourite phrase from the American writer and preacher John Ortberg:  If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat…

Flippin’ Futterneid

IMG_5648Not since Father Ted and Dougal took to the stage with ‘My Lovely Horse‘ have two such eminent clerics joined musical forces!  Richard and I are trying our hand at leading worship at our next Sunday Nights at The Dock on Sun 3rd from 6pm in Dock Cafe.  I promise to lose the sax solo…

61M07J7WS5L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_We’ll also be hearing from Esther as we continue our series on decisions, decisions… For those of you following through the John Ortberg book (All The Places To Go) with us, we’re on the ‘Door A or Door B?’ chapter… but whether you’re reading the book or not, come along for some inspiration, prayer, space to be still and a great cup of tea!


The topic of decisions must’ve been running through my mind when I was Thinking a Thought (for the day) for BBC radio last week, based on a new word that Joachim the crazy German has introduced to Dock-world:

The word is “futterneid” and it describes a universal emotion. You’re in a restaurant and you make your decision between all the tempting options on the menu. Will it be chicken or steak? After much agonising you choose the chicken and someone else at the table chooses steak, and when everyone’s meal arrives all you can think about is how tender and tasty and delicious the steak looks compared to your boring old chicken. That’s futterneid – literally, food envy – and we all experience a bit of futterneid every time we make a decision, no matter how big or small. As soon as the decision is made beyond the point of no return, we suddenly start to wonder how wonderful life would have been if we’d gone the other way.

My mum was in hospital last week to get a new hip. She tells me that everyone in the recovery ward has the same conversation: have I made the right decision? The op is kinda painful (so I’m reliably informed), the recovery is long and slow. At some point everyone asks themselves: what would life be like, could I have avoided this pain, wouldn’t everything be so much easier if I had decided to decline the operation? But then, everyone who declines the operation (and apparently it happens all the time, even sometimes just a day beforehand) probably constantly asks themselves, what would life be like, could I have avoided this pain, would everything be so much better if I had gone through with the operation? Futterneid: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

We are all the products of millions of decisions, big and small – from choosing steak or chicken, to deciding where I live or who I marry, what career I pursue, what I throw my energies and talents into, what I decide to do with my one and only life. My choices have made me who I am, and brought me to where I am and there’s no way to know how things might have panned out in a parallel life where I chose differently.

Wishing or wondering if I would be happier if any of the decisions that I woulda coulda shoulda made isn’t going to get me very far. This is the day that is before me, full of opportunities and challenges, and I have to live the best day I can.

A bit of wisdom from Middle Earth, when all the choices seem to have gone amiss in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”