Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year, A New Place

4th Day in the England Adventure

Delayed flights, trotting through O'Hare to barely catch my international flight, touring around Heathrow to find other students, a bus ride to Oxford, a cab ride to Eynsham, meeting 9 fabulous students and 7 Bywater family members, church in a building founded before America was, buying groceries at the co-op and Sainsbury's, class, reading, and getting to know folks over meals and games... The days have been full and good.

While I should be reading instead I'm writing out some thoughts for those anxious to hear what England is like. I'm also writing for my own memory. The days have blurred together slightly. The tea here is lovely, as is the company.

Time for reflection doesn't happen quite enough. I can see the need to build in regular time for solitude, walks, prayer, writing, and Scripture reading. Some of those things may overlap, but none of those things will happen without careful planning and arranging. Except walking - that is done in great regularity.

I have barely begun to read a few things for one of my tutors, but I thought I would share one thing with anyone who might read my blog:

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it griev'd me my heart to think
What man has made of man.

~ William Wordsworth

Though short, a few lines from the poem cause me to ponder a bit. Why is it that the trill of a bird in early morn can make the heart soar, yet bring tears of sorrow, melancholy, sadness, or pain? How does sweetness cause pain? Is it the pain of Beauty which Sheldon Vanauken talks of in A Severe Mercy?

Out of the stillness broken by birdsong, and perhaps tears, one can certainly be led to ponder what man has made of man. Nature can seem unspoiled at times. The Beauty of the magnificent or overwhelming, the sharp thrill we receive when we hear the chatter of squirrels and birds is juxtaposed with the reality that human relationships are messy. Some men enslave others through hardship and toil, some persons oppress others' thoughts, writings, or speeches, and still others suppress through condescension.

But what has man made of man? Surely each of us can think of a great teacher, a book that has shaped our thinking or who we are, an employer who has helped us learn a skill or lessons of other sorts. What has man made of man? It is often because of someone else's help or encouragement that many a person has pressed on, has done more than they thought they ever could. Oh yes, this too is what man has made of his fellows.

It was God who placed us in communion with one another and with Himself. This poem is a good one, but could it have been great if Wordsworth had gone further, asking what God has made of man? I submit that it could have been.

That's it for tonight, another day of classes (and creme tea) comes tomorrow. Off to the land of dreams I must go!

~ Johanna

P. S. My address for the term is as follows, please feel free to send me mail!
*Note the address correction since yesterday*

86 Venneit Close
Chancellor Park - 2b
Oxford, UK

1 comment:

  1. I like reading your thoughts Jody:)