I didn’t need to do the Titanic tour again, but couldn’t let our bus go to Belfast without tagging along. In the Titanic Quarter I took myself off on the minor tour of the “Little Sister Ship” the Nomadic, now restored and in dry dock here. This was a small tour and quiet. A staff member photographed me in a red velvet cloak, drinking from a china cup. This was how first class passengers were ferried out to the big liner. However the photo went astray in my phone unfortunately.
With over an hour to wait for my companions, I went next to visit the Dock Café, which I had heard about. This is a timely and popular venue, with a charitable and ecumenical ethos and no cash till. There is an Honesty Box for donations. The good food, tea, coffee etc all come freely. And apparently they break even quite comfortably.
Don’t know if all visitors get a personal welcoming host as I did. Harry, who has the broadest smile imaginable, greeted me as I headed for an armchair beside a small bookshelf. I requested tea, ordinary English variety; and soon Harry returned with this. His secure faith and trust are obvious and our long conversation did me a lot of good. One would have to be very sceptical to resist this dedicated and friendly outreach ministry.
Although I thought I had left charismatic spirituality behind some years ago, the appeal of its certainty remains. Harry did not bat an eyelid when I gently declined his promotion of the gift of Tongues. “I’m trying to go into silence now,” I explained. This was no problem, since I gathered that Tongues, is just another instance of how words fail us with God anyway.
Having strayed with a faith perspective over many topics – including the political. This is Northern Ireland after all and Brexit is looming. By now I was feeling satiated and told Harry I would soon have to go. I needed a little reflection time and knew he intended to pray over me and my Catholicity -his own background being Presbyterian. And so he did unselfconsciously, as all sorts of people drifted by, in and out. One young teenager stopped to thank Harry for something, including a pizza I think. As this boy made his way out, Harry told me that he is just about ready to commit his life to God.
I soon left too; but Belfast never ceases to surprise and captivate me with its friendliness. And the ‘Joy of the Gospel’ is also palpable at the Dock Café. Well worth a visit and their tea is also to be recommended.
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