Walks were very much on the agenda today. At lunchtime we had the second ‘Titanic Slipway Pilgrimage’ walk – a new venture in conjunction with Titanic Belfast. Setting out from the visitor centre with 30+ people, we walked the outline of Titanic and Olympic on the slipways where they were born, stopping every so often – at the lifeboat positions, the launch site, the memorial name-plaques on the slipway ramps – to reflect on the Titanic using music, stories and prayers.
I’m just so excited that this new opportunity has opened up within Dock-world. It seems to combine so much of what has happened over these past 2 years – the Dock Walks, my tour-guiding with Titanic Walking Tours, my role as Titanic Ambassador – into something new. The Titanic story contains so much that is thought-provoking and spiritual – and offering space and a little structure for people to respond to that is, I reckon, a massively important role for The Dock in its chaplaincy to the Titanic Quarter.
It was great to leaf through the feedback forms today and realise that this idea has really struck a chord with visitors from all over the world, even during these ‘experimental’ weeks while we’ve been finding our feet. So, watch this space…
After a quick bite of lunch, it was time for the Dock Walk, and another beautiful afternoon with a brilliant bunch of people. We walked amidst sun-showers, blazing sunlight and distant rainbows; we prayed for Ronnie and Lyn (two Dock members who are embarking on an epic adventure to Mongolia) at the edge of the Lough; we discussed Scripture as we walked through unformed wasteland, enjoying the challenge of chewing over a difficult passage; we worshipped as we stood dwarfed by Goliath (the crane not the man).
These walks have become such a profound part of our lives, and the people who have walked with us on Sunday afternoons have become family. But all good things (like the Slipway Pilgrimages) have pauses built in to them, times to stop and reflect: and so the Dock Walks will be taking a pause in August, ready to resume on the first Sunday of September. The time is approaching for the Bennetts’ annual pilgrimage to the land of vin rose, crepes nutella and pain au chocolat. In our absence the team are going to do a phenomenal job of keeping Dock Cafe open for Life in the Titanic Quarter – make sure you pay a visit when you get the chance.