24 October 2008

The Lake District

A journal entry, dated 3 October 2008:

I have officially completed my first course at Oxford. Late last night (well, early this morning), I delivered my last two 8-page papers to Frewin Court, bringing our British Landscapes course to a gentle, though somewhat anticipated, end. Last night I slept a total of two hours before waking up at 5:00am to walk Ashley Wells to the coach stop at Gloucester Green (she is now en route to her family’s ancestral German home for the break). The night before, I got a whopping four hours of sleep. An average of five was last week’s theme. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve gotten a full eight hours’ sleep undisturbed since I came to England. The past few weeks have been a blur, a very stressful and quick-moving sequence of events. Just trying to keep up with the research workload and stay healthy (physically, spiritually, emotionally) has been a definite challenge. But so far it has not affected my bright-eyed enchantment of Oxford, of England, of Crick, of studying abroad, independent from SPU and everything I know.

The stress hasn’t blinded me to the beauty of being here, but it has kept my eyes focused solely on the goal of finishing my school work. And so now—on a monstrously uncomfortable 15-passenger van, almost to the Lake District for midterm break—I feel as if scales have been removed from my eyes. Almost as if I’m seeing the glories of this place—both visually and metaphorically—again, for the first time. I’m so excited to be here, in the hard window seat, with cold toes and cracked fingers and my friends. I never got the chance to finish reading Pride & Prejudice for my final case study, so I brought it along—and I too, like Elizabeth Bennett, will tour the Lake District and revel in the soul-cleansing clarity of nature in pure communion with God.

I look out the window, face pressed to cold glass, and open my eyes wide as they’ll go to take in every ray of October light. Hills as smooth and broad as rolling ocean waves are dotted with sheep, grazing, waiting to be herded out of the golden dusk. Every shade of green contained in fields and patchwork leas is a different note, sweetly sung in the melody of my memory. The sun assaults my skin between the poplars. A single hawk sits on a wire fence. Clouds—ever more yellow-violet by the minute—rim the edges of the foothills in a shadowy embrace, the arms of a lover around his darling, folding her into his chest. How prose yields itself to poesy when confronted with the fearsome beauty of the landscape. A natural surrender, second-nature to the pen. God contained in every slanting ray of sunset; every leaf of autumn, gold-infused; every remembered, treasured promise: I will never leave you, nor forsake you.

1 comment:

Ashley L. said...

incredibly beautiful pictures. i can't wait to view ALL of them on your computer on my bed under a blanket cozied up to YOU! :)