Friday Thought with Fr. Chris Ferguson: A sense of belonging (and hunger) at the Clipper
I was determined to visit the Clipper Festival this year as I missed the event on the last visit to the City.
There was another reason I was keen to experience the sights, smells and more importantly the tastes of the Foyle Maritime Festival, it was lunch time and I was starving.
I had agreed to meet with a teaching friend of mine who is recovering from a stroke.
I offered to be his care assistant for the afternoon and if anything, dramatic happened I could always anoint him.
With such words of consolation, we agreed to meet up around 1pm. As usual, I was late and decided to park at the Foyle Arena. For some reason, I decided to walk down through the park.
This was a massive mistake, I had forgotten how much of a detour it was compared with walking through Ebrington Square.
As you might imagine, I had to endure text messages a calls from my partner in and crime, who was beginning to wonder had I stopped off for lunch even before we met up.
By the time my short legs carried me across the Peace Bridge I was half an hour late and starving.
Needless to say, I was met with a sarcastic comment and a round of applause. Yet, the fun was only starting as we entered the riverfront area with its hosts of stalls.
The afternoon was overcast but warm and dry which was why my walking companion got confused when he thought he heard thunder. I was quick to explain it wasn’t thunder, it was the rumbling of my stomach.
As we journeyed down the quay, my mouth was watering. All the exotic foods were within touching and tasting distance, it was beginning to become an agony of frustration and temptation.
There was one major issue which had nothing to do with crowds or queues, the problem was my newly recovered companion.
It took us two hours to travel the length of the quay, every five steps we had to stop as friends, colleagues and acquaintances stopped to ask for a medical update.
Whatever about my friend’s recovery, my body was beginning to shut down due to starvation.
The whole afternoon was like one long sympathy tour as my walking partner basked in the attention and gestures of concern.
To be honest, I was jealous, as I stood at his knee feeling like a gooseberry because I was being ignored.
Regardless, I was amazed at the atmosphere and the crowds.
Obviously, to organise such an event and cater for the crowds was a massive undertaking. Ensuring everyone’s safety, providing an array of entertainment and meeting people’s catering needs was a colossal task.
The vision of crowds and the hunger of people was a reality Jesus was familiar with. Jesus when he noticed the frantic searching of the crowds, was immediately moved to compassion.
As the one sent to shepherd God’s people, Jesus’ main concern was to nurture and protect his followers. This task has now been entrusted to the Church.
As God’s people we have been commissioned to care for one another and as disciples creating a family where they all feel they can belong.