The Passion Walk is returning to Belfast for a second year, and once more Dock Cafe is the destination point (as well as the hot coffee, tasty tea or scrummy bun provider) at the end of the walk.
You can see a video trailer for the Passion Walk here – or this is the pitch from the website: The Passion Walk is an invitation to walk the path of Jesus’ Easter journey in the streets of Belfast. Walking a route across the centre of the city with an audio guide, and pausing at certain key locations, you are invited to enter into the events of Jesus’ final hours. As was the case in Jesus’ day, the ongoing life of a busy city becomes the backdrop for the events of the story. The Passion Walk is an invitation to experience the story in a new way, and perhaps see the city in a new light.
Not knowing quite what to expect, I set off on the walk last year and found it surprising, moving and very personal. These are a few of my reflections scribbled on the Dock blog last year when I had just finished the walk:
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.
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.
What a powerful and unique way to experience the Easter story.
So this Friday and Saturday, Dock Cafe will be closed for normal business (and a well-deserved rest for volunteers) but open as the concluding station of the Passion Walk. If you can, I’d really encourage you to set aside an hour or two and do the walk yourself.
You can sign up here, and either access the material with your own smartphone/MP3 player & headphones, or borrow the equipment at the starting point at Glengall Street.
Have a happy, restful and meaningful Easter.