Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Things considered whilst walking in the drizzle

{Written Monday, 21 February 2011}

Today I walked down the sidewalks of Oxford and realized that it rather frustrates me that the British (and visitors to Oxford) don’t understand order. If you drive on the left side of the road, it should logically follow that you walk on the left side of the sidewalk. Ah, but no... Too often I find myself nearly having my head smashed by an unseen bus mirror because I am obliged to walk with traffic, rather than against it. Then there are those mental conversations about which way I need to sidestep to avoid oncoming pedestrians which result in a funny little dance. Left... No, right. No really, left. *Sigh*

Whilst observing my fellow travellers sloshing through the drizzle I learned that one ought to take a course in order to properly wield an umbrella. The girl ahead of me collided her umbrella with another woman’s, nearly removed a young man’s head by holding her rain-repeller at his neck’s height, and did not succeed at making it easy (or even possible) to pass her on the sidewalk.

When I wasn’t plotting my course or dodging mad bumbershoot-ists, I had a moment to think about my weeks in Oxford. Tuesdays and every other Friday are my favourite days. Tuesday mornings I have my History tutorial, where I often learn much about how to conceive questions that the text failed to ask. Midday on Tuesdays is made for walking all over Oxford in the spirit of exploration. I have nowhere to be in a hurry, I can literally stop and smell the flowers if I’d like. Evenings may be my very favourite, though, because I go to the C. S. Lewis Society. I don’t even pretend to be pretentious enough to ask a question, I just listen to everyone else’s. I wonder about my own questions, sometimes gaining the courage to ask them of the speaker afterward. Pondering ideas by Lewis or his contemporaries, meeting new people, talking with Jake (who usually goes with me), and setting up chairs for the evening are curiously rewarding events.

Every other Friday is rather different, but they all begin with me writing or editing my paper due at 9:30am. Sometimes I race to the OSAP office, sometimes I saunter; always I leave something essential back at the flat (quite usually my bus pass). My English tutor is patient with my terrible papers, teaches me more about poetry than I knew, connects things I might never have seen, and gives me a deep appreciation for imagination and vision. He has taught me much more than that, though. This tutor, like Dr. Bauman, has taught me that academics are good, important, and worth pursuing, but not at the cost of the individual. I am humbled at the time taken by these men to ensure that I grow as a person, not merely as a student or a writer.

I have made it to the New College cloisters, where I watch streaks of rain dash at the ground whilst pondering the things learned on my walk. It is a perfect day for reflection, reading, and writing. This is good, because my dabbling at writing has already begun with these thoughts, and must continue in earnest with my History paper that is due tomorrow morning. Farewell from this quiet place on this lovely rainy day!

~ Johanna

*Edit* You can also find this blog post on the Summit Ministries website.


  1. I feel you, Johanna... ;) (sorry, couldn't resist)... it sounds as if you're in a lit-lover's dream-bubble. Praying for your safety from the bumbling bumbershoot-wielders today. I think I might enjoy a good rainy day, particularly if you were there to come read by my fire...

  2. Oh please come share a rainy day with me! I will give you tea (and crumpets with nutella if you would like), and we can talk about bumbling bumbershoot-ists, and how I fumbled my first meeting with Walter Hooper. :) Great, when can you arrive?

    ~ Jody

    P. S. Please bring the fire with you. The British don't understand woodstoves apparently.