East Belfast Mission With A Rosary In My Pocket

Address: EBM, Skainos Centre, Newtownards Rd, Belfast
Words:  Therese Kieran
Image:  Sinead McNulty

Mission. Go east,
look closer, under skin,
walk a road you’ve never walked before,
encounter Titanic Yardmen – frozen;
Strand Spinning mill silenced – years since its meltdown.
Discover dockers, doffers, tenters, riveters
defined in dictionaries, (written out of history)
study the painted gables –
soft brush meets hard line on Freedom Corner,
respect the sacrifices, accept the choices, move on.

Mission. Go east,
look closer, under skin,
celebrate the sons who made their name the game:
Van the Man, C.S. Lewis, Georgie Best (of the best of the best)
and now a test – who’s next?
Who’ll do the clocking in, the clocking out?
Walk on: William Hill, 321 Bingo, Iceland,
Russells Food & Drink, Second Time Around,
The Great Eastern, The Bethany Fish & Chips,
then something new – Skainos Square – circa 2012.

Mission. Go east,
look closer, under skin,
grounded in Methodism, founded by Wesley in Oxford,
his Holy Club, intellectual hub of good deed and kindness – in God’s name.
Interlopers, go in faith, gather at the towering wall of green
and know that it’s a living thing.
Welcome one and all, welcome friends and strangers,
welcome the newborn – watch Mama Margaret hold this world in her hands.
Listen to her story, her calling, devoted to community,
salvaging what she can, for the poor, the jobless, the homeless.

Mission. Go east,
look closer, under skin,
taste small sips: a builder’s brew at Cafe Refresh,
race through pre-loved goods in Restore,
chase busy volunteers then leave them alone,
for you and your assignment are the least of their worries.
Read what you can find, mine what matters most,
conclude – all of it, all the strands that weft this fragile warp:
employment schemes, homework club, cooking, reading, writing,
creche, church, hostel, street soccer, learn Irish? (genuinely not a misprint.)

Mission. Go east,
look closer, under skin,
follow wise men and women, praise them, go forth
spread the good news about the East Belfast Mission
then look into your heart and write your manifesto:
be the best parent you can be, admit mistakes, be curious,
do not fear diversity, embrace learning, be kind, be gracious,
be patient, be true, be courageous,
believe in the power of good deed and great effort,
make a Rosary for this living, breathing thing.