Wednesday June 29, 2011
Safely arrived in London after a delightfully uneventful 10-hour flight from Dallas. My seatmate was a well-dressed young man from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, who was flying through London to Romania to work for several weeks in an orphanage there; apparently this is something he’s done for several years now. Really neat guy. At Heathrow, had to wait in a seemingly never-ending line at Passport Control. I’m making a deliberate attempt to savor every moment of my trip, so this was my first test!
I boarded the bus from Heathrow to Oxford with a definite feeling that I was “home” and that the adventure had finally begun. I can’t wipe this smile off my face. I’m here; I’m really here!! It was a beautiful London morning with blue skies, hardly a cloud to be seen, and temps in the mid-50s inching toward the high of mid-60s. It felt great after the physical workout of getting through the airport with the luggage cart.
The landing into Heathrow was amazing: we entered London air space from the east and flew parallel to the Thames. Since it was a beautiful, clear day, I got to see all of the famous landmarks and monuments and also got to pray over London from the air. A rare experience and a special treat. It quite put this journey in perspective for me here at the start.
Thursday, June 30
After about 11 hours of (much-needed) sleep, and many crazy dreams, I woke up a bit groggy but rested and restored. Had a quick breakfast in my room then headed up to a coffee shop on Cornmarket Street, from whose second-floor windows I could look down on the world of activity below. So good to be back. I bought a newspaper to catch up on local and national news, then did some brainstorming concerning the week ahead. Had lunch “in hall” with the delightful Hertford College staff. I feel like I talked four times more than they did — felt like I had a talking disease! Perhaps that’s just called being an American? 🙂
After a meeting with the staff, headed back to the dorm via Patisserie Valerie (see photos for my delicious choices coming soon!) and Christ Church meadow. One of the greatest pleasures of my trip so far has been to use the annual pass to the botanic gardens, a pass that I purchased last year but is still valid until July 9. I love just sitting on a rustic wooden bench surrounded by the flowers and birds, reading a good book in the shadows of the spires of Oxford. It makes a great prayer garden as well.
Friday, July 1st
Even though I took care to wear my most comfortable shoes during my first days, my feet are absolutely killing me. I thought I was being smart and thinking preventively by buying “blister plaster” at the local Boots chemist store. Apparently blister plaster does not equal band-aid. A huge blister had already formed, unbeknownst to me, under the blister plaster so that when I went to take it off the back of my left foot, the skin from the blister came with it — leaving a huge area of exposed skin! Not being known for my calm in the face of pain, I naturally freaked out.
Fortunately I had a first aid kit in my room and did the best I could to remedy the situation. But definitely no closed-heeled shoes for me for awhile! But this forced restraint of activity has helped me read and relax a lot more than I would have under normal circumstances, I think.
Today, after saying hello to the Hertford gang, I popped into a free exhibit at the Bodleian Library: “Oxford and the Making of the King James Bible.” Fascinating little exhibit! It contains one of the only surviving copies of the Bishops’ Bible and also the hand-written musical score of Handel’s Messiah, that the composer himself used to conduct the premiere in Dublin.
Saturday, July 2nd
All students arrived safely and on time. Praise the Lord! Looks like a good group this year. I’m looking forward to getting to know them better. Resurrected the Quiddler card game (similar to Scrabble but with cards instead of tiles) and got the socks beaten off me by the three other players — our two Oxford RAs Gabi and Dan, and RSG student Trey. I must have been distracted by the day’s activities. I must have a rematch!!
After the pizza dinner and orientation, Trey, Dan and I headed up to City Hall for what turned out to be an amazing concert: Vaughan Williams’ Oxford Elegy, his Lark Ascending, and John Rutter’s negro-spiritual-inspired “Feel the Spirit.” Then ice cream at G&D’s and then home!