As I’m writing this, Christ Church’s Great Tom — the loudest bell in all of Oxford — is chiming. At 9:05 every night, the bell is rung 101 times, one for each of the 100 original scholars of the college, plus one. Why at 9:05? That’s because Oxford is five minutes off of Greenwich Mean Time. Yeah, I don’t really get it either. But it’s a quaint custom — like so many here!
We had a good showing at breakfast this morning and all but three of the group joined us at church. St. Aldate’s is my favorite church in all the world, and always a highlight of my time here. To me, it’s everything that a church should be: vibrant, yet grounded in tradition, biblically-sound, reaching out to the community in significant ways, and an enormous heart for missions and reaching out to the lost around the world.
At lunch, we had steak and potatoes — British style! Although I was originally disappointed that we didn’t have Chef Paul again this year (he was promoted to a high position in another college), our new chef is very nice and has already outdone himself. There is an even greater abundance of fresh fruit, berries and veggies this year and they’ve added some bottles of sparkling and flat water and some cans of soda, along with fruit juices at every meals. At least there’s more variety than just tap water.
Another difference from last year is that so far we’ve been the only group dining, so we just have one long table in the middle of the room versus other years when there have been so many tables and chairs that we could hardly breathe! Conversation is a lot easier this way.
After lunch, Gabi (one of our RAs) gave us a brief overview of the Oxford system of education and then she and Dan (the other RA) led us on a walking tour of Oxford. There’s so much to love about Oxford. *sigh* And I love talking with alum from other years because it’s interesting to hear what they particularly liked: everyone is so different! Some people love the quietness and beauty of the parks and gardens, while others loved the convivial atmosphere of the local pubs, and others liked the shopping!
Some of our group tonight went to see the new Transformers movie — probably not something I would have done with my limited time in England, but I hope they will have fond memories of it!
I love eating here. We were in a supermarket (Marks & Spencer’s) fifteen minutes before it closed and rushed around trying to find and purchase what we could for dinner. I ended up with a bag of lettuce, a pint of fresh raspberries, goat cheese, smoked salmon, and hummus (I have crackers and pita chips in my dorm room). I love how everything is preservative-free and the packaging clearly indicates where the things were made and it has the nutrional wheel that gives even more information than our US packaging does. You have no excuse not to eat healthfully here (and now would not be a good time for anyone to bring up the delicious pastries that I mentioned in my last post …).
Well, the sun is setting over the Oxford skyline. What a beautiful day! Thank you, Lord, for this great weather we’re having. I pray for each one of our former Oxford students who are now scattered around America — and perhaps the world! — and I thank you for this very special bond that we share. I pray for your protection over this new group and also that they might have the wisdom to enjoy every moment and not to let the unavoidable little inconveniences that are bound to come up keep them from making the most of their time here.