For the last few days Dock Cafe has been the last stop of the Passion Walk, an ‘urban pilgrimage’ in which you walk through the journey of the Easter story while walking through the streets of Belfast city.
Everyone arriving at the Dock for their cuppa at journey’s end was so impressed and moved by the experience that I thought I’d better try it myself…
On arrival at the starting point at Glengall St you’re equipped with an MP3 player (or shown how to access the audio files on your smartphone) and headphones if necessary, so that you can take the walk completely at your own pace. There’s something very powerful about being left to your own devices during a reflective time like this; you’re not hurried along (or slowed down) by anyone else’s agenda.
And so you strike out into the noisy streets of the city, and the busyness and distractions are part of the point – the audio guide makes the point that the events of the original Easter week did not happen in a hushed bubble, but amid the daily lives of hundreds of busy people, most of them unaware of history turning on its axis in their midst.
You are guided to stop at various points where the surroundings enhance or play off the various points of the story – I loved the idea of stopping in a dingy, dodgy alleyway when remembering the scene of Jesus’ beating, or using the ‘Sheep On The Road’ sculpture at the Waterfront Hall to think about Jesus as the good shepherd.
Again and again you notice familiar parts of the city in a new light, or see things you’ve walked past a hundred times but never really seen before.
By the time I reached the Dock I was ready for my cuppa – but I also felt as if I had properly stopped (or at least paused) my racing thoughts, worries and plans for just a little while. Of course I got distracted and waylaid sometimes (not least by the temptation of a Nutella crepe at the City Hall – ahem) but the rhythm of walking, pausing, listening, reflecting, at my own pace and alone with my own thoughts and prayers, soon drew me back.
PS if you’re kicking yourself for missing out, do not despair! Susan Mansfield, the creator and co-ordinator of the walk, is joining us at Sunday Nights at the Dock on Easter Sunday at 6pm in Dock Cafe to tell us how the idea was born. There may even be a very short version of the Walk involved…. see you there!