Since Day One of my odyssey in the Titanic Quarter, there has been a huge billboard standing beside the construction site of the new Belfast Metropolitan College campus, proudly proclaiming, ‘The excitement is building…” That billboard and slogan have been an appropriate welcome at the gateway to the TQ every day of The Dock’s life – until now…
I know this might be a strange thing to get excited about, but I was irrationally pleased to be there at the exact moment this billboard was finally dismantled – to reveal the gleaming BMC entrance underneath. A concrete (OK, wooden) example of the vision and planning and hope of the past few years genuinely becoming glass-and-steel reality. No more need to cast the vision, to promise and raise expectations – BMC is sitting there, bold as brass, looking ready to open its doors this coming September.
My only regret is that they didn’t do it a week earlier! – for those of you who’ve been getting up at 5:45am to listen to Prayer For The Day this week (hi Mum!), you’ll know that this is exactly what we were thinking about on Saturday morning:
A few years ago, the vision of the Titanic Quarter was launched – a series of artist’s impressions of a new urban village; pictures of gleaming apartment blocks, office complexes, colleges, studios and visitor attractions, thronged with people. Back then, it was hard to walk the wastelands of the old docks and visualize this dream taking physical form. Even as foundations were laid three years ago, it was difficult to believe that this building site would ever become a thriving community.
But I now have pictures snapped with my mobile phone camera which look practically identical to those early concept pictures; it takes a close look to tell them apart. The vision is becoming reality.
It’s easy to become discouraged in the middle of a big undertaking. Starting a business, completing your education, breaking a habit, raising a family – for these things there is no quick fix; profound change doesn’t happen overnight. We sometimes feel we are living through the building site, and find it hard to see the day when the artist’s impression becomes the photograph. Lord God, for all of us who are undertaking a work in progress, and all of us who are ourselves a work in progress, give us patience, and courage, and hope – a sure and certain hope that big dreams can become reality.