Nov 4, 2012

The North, Part II: we all need peace.

Saturday morning: The sauna was real.

So was the pool, and the (surprise) steam room.  Last night was like a Sunday afternoon at home; by 10:30 pm, I was thoroughly worn out and burrowed into the hotel comforter.  Had I not woken with a frenzied start at 4 am (and 4:30 am, and 5:15 am), it would have been a completely rejuvenating night.

Still, the sauna was real and warm and woody and I've breathed relaxation for the first time in days.

Saturday evening: Today’s tour of Belfast City was the distraction I’ve been needing.  Belfast strikes me, generally, as an area that’s seen better days, but is rebuilding.  Bar the occasional bombing, Belfast has apparently has come a long way since “the troubles” of the 1970s.

One note, before I dive in: did you know that Titanic was built in this city?  (You should have - and in case you didn't, you do now.)  I should have liked to visit the Titanic museum - since “Titanic” is my favorite movie, after all as well as the home of a favorite author, C.S. Lewis.  Unfortunately, time constraints took precedence.  (Also, I was the only person in the group who wanted to do these things.  Moving on...)

Since this tour was mostly conducted while we were aboard the coach, I have hardly as many photos as I would have liked to take.  Still, here are some highlights:
The Antrim round tower, locally known as "the steeple".
That Celtic cross seems to pop up wherever I go.
The Antrim round tower is actually not in Belfast proper, but on the way in.  Built at the periphery of a monastery, it once held bells that would toll at appointed times in order to alert the monks to things like mealtimes and prayer times.

Next up: the peace wall.
It looks like loads of graffiti, I know, but it's the graffiti of peace advocates.
The Belfast international peace wall runs throughout the city in an attempt to maintain civility among Protestants (some of whom live on the side of this wall that you can't see)...
Just across the road.
...and Catholics (yes, pictured above is a "Catholic area".  Belfast is actually organized into enclaves based on faith communities.  I'm not kidding.)

I found some graffiti on the wall worth noting:

Okay, so this one wasn't profound at all...but it did arouse my curiosity about what a "mungbean" might be.
Like most solutions, this one is hardly foolproof; in fact, a policeman was murdered here just days ago.  News like that, apart from making me nauseous, leads me to wonder: in a city this polarized, is a peace wall too idealistic a concept?  I mean, I don't want to embrace jadedness, but for heaven's sake - there are giant steel gates built all over this city, just to keep people from killing each other.  So here's the question, then:

Is peace too lofty a goal?


  1. C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors too! Thanks for this glimpse into your journey!