Tag Archives: London

among sandy gardens set: Winchester and Theale

among sandy gardens set: Winchester and Theale

Read Part II: Wales, York, Edinburgh

A slick black engine shot me from York to London in two, maybe three hours, followed by a more sedate connection to Oxford. I alighted on the first morning of the Awakening conference, the Canterbury Institute’s pilot program for high school students on the verge of university studies.

Canterbury boarded me at St Edmund’s, a college I had yet to explore, and engaged me for two days in such fabulous sessions as, “What is the purpose of a university education?” and “What is the meaning of life?” One-on-one tutorials in law and classics (the participants’ chosen areas of interest) gave the program its backbone. With only two students attended by about a dozen graduate students, I suspect the conference staff relished the event even more than our guests did.

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parrot islands anchored lie: London and the Isle of Wight

parrot islands anchored lie: London and the Isle of Wight

The summer before traveling to Oxford, I dreamed up a short wishlist for travel in the United Kingdom: 1) Yorkshire, the site of beloved stories from my childhood, and 2) Wales, the only British country still alien to me. With my lease winding to a close on the 30th of June and my plans for the oncoming autumn undecided, the months of July and August opened like a window of opportunity before me, if only I could find the key.

I have a dear friend (and former professor) to thank for almost everything that followed. With a few emails, Sam enlisted friends across the country to host me for weeks (or months, if requested). Buoyed with confidence born of traveling towards a friendly destination, I boarded the bus to London.

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الحَمدُ للّة: Hilary Term

الحَمدُ للّة: Hilary Term

Springtime comes in February for Oxford. Bluebells, snow drops, crocuses, and daffodils are disrupting the sombre charcoal tones of winter, lifting my spirit from lockdown doldrums to a hopeful (and often anxious) anticipation of the future.

With most of the libraries shut down for most of the term, I played church tourist and commenced a round of endless walks, reminding myself that I’m not alone here no matter how much it feels like it.

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Ube nokhisimuzi omuhle: Holidays

Ube nokhisimuzi omuhle: Holidays

Christmas cheer was thin on the ground last year. Despite my best intentions, the week leading up to my final essay submission demanded a slog of sleepless nights and soul-searching doubt. Just when I thought I was free to relax into the holidays, the UK government shocked everyone by declaring a stay-at-home order with less than 24 hours notice.

Even so, God was good to me.

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Plain Living and High Thinking: Exploring Oxford

Plain Living and High Thinking: Exploring Oxford

“We should celebrate!”

My first day out of self-isolation, the gracious Audrey paraded me around Oxford for a tour and congratulatory tea (in classic British style, with scones and clotted cream). We last encountered each other while doing undergraduate studies in Michigan – small world!

She inaugurated my first ventures afield into the puzzle of walls, roofs, and doors that unwinds from my newly built accommodations, overlapping medieval, modern, and everything in-between.

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In All Godly Quietness: USA Visit Via London

In All Godly Quietness: USA Visit Via London

If there’s anything Peace Corps service has taught me, it’s the necessity of waiting.

My nature rebels against the humility and simple surrender of acknowledging that further action will avail nothing; the outcome is beyond my power to influence; there’s nothing to do but place my trust in the Lord…and wait.

In some small areas, my expectations have made the adjustment: the taxis to my shopping town, the line at the grocery store, the printers at school. Although service providers here rarely hurry and sometimes acknowledge requests reluctantly, that doesn’t mean they aren’t responding. A patient smile does wonders for my health and theirs.

It’s the big questions – about career, family, and the future – that send me into the wrestling ring with God. As a Christian blogger pointed out, there’s a difference between waiting for something you know will happen (eventually) and waiting when you’re not sure whether it ever will. The Biblical images of sowing and reaping acquire new resonance for me as I wonder when the time invested in these critical areas will begin to bear fruit.

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