Posts Tagged ‘journey’

Crimson peppermint candle, new Over the Rhine CD playing softly, music from Lizzie’s TV upstairs, cozy slippers (also red), desk lamp glowing brightly, stacks of half-finished and yet-to-be-started books on the desk. (I’m trying not to buy any more books until I’ve read at least a couple of these.) Peppermint hot chocolate in my stomach. Hours of talk tonight with Lizzie, about weddings, siblings, friends, a dog called Mayday, and other randomness. Wind and rain on a chilly night, and the prospect of a walk or bike ride into town tomorrow.

My three weeks in Texas were amazing. Chaotic, but fun and chock-full of family and dear friends. Scrabble with Jon by the fire; chatting to Adam about his new life in Seattle; coffee with Walker; lunch at the Hickory Street cafe with Julie S. Breakfast with Dawne, dinner with the Danleys, four days in Ruidoso with my family, a whole week and a half with my beloved J. I miss him already, though it’s only two months of separation this time (he’s coming for Spring Break). And a bit of me, as ever, misses the close-knit family at Highland and dinners at Rosa’s and lunches at Los Arcos.

But I am back in my own cosy room, no longer living out of a suitcase, and ready for a new semester full of plans and dreams. New ACU group arriving with Cole on Thursday; Jacque comes in this weekend; St Aldates is still here and as vibrant as ever. And it will soon be time to bury myself in schoolbooks again. Meanwhile it’s high time I had a browse in Blackwells and a scone at Queen’s Lane.

I so enjoyed the visit back to my Texas home – my past and future. But for a while longer at least, Oxford is my present, and it’s good to be back.

Let the new year begin!

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Off again

The ACU students are off to Italy, to Austria, to Turkey. My laundry is off the drying rack in Grace’s room. Jo is off to Cardiff to see her family for a few days. My classes are off until 6 November (I have to give a presentation on the night we reconvene, but we’re not thinking about that yet). And tomorrow noonish, I’m off to Austria.

I’ve been a bit freaked out about leaving as I have three major things due in the next two weeks, but if I can’t take a holiday during mid-term break, then when can I take one? And when Brittany, Kamerie, Ashlynn and Brent said they were going to Salzburg and Vienna, well, I couldn’t resist.

My reason for loving Salzburg is the same as many people’s – the beloved movie in which the hills are alive, which has been my favourite since I was nine years old. The girls watched it the other day to prep themselves for the trip, and I caught the last hour. It’s such a wonderful love story, family story, courage-and-hope story, and a God-story. And, of course, the music is fabulous.

I took a trip to Salzburg in April 2004; my roommate Joy and I just drank in the quiet mountain peace for four days, and (of course) I took the Sound of Music tour…saw the gazebo and the palaces and the church and the gardens. I probably won’t do that this time, but am planning to walk through the gardens again, and gaze at the Alps, and stroll the narrow strassen, and eat Apfelstrudel. I’ll do some reading work on the plane, then forget all about school for a few days.

And, as always when I travel, there’s the delicious anticipation of coming home. I love the feeling of stepping off the bus at Gloucester Green and breathing in the air of Oxford again. Home never feels more like home than when you’ve left it for a while. And then, of course, there will be hugs and stories at Canterbury Road. My basement boys have scattered to wild and various places this week – I can’t wait to hear their tales of adventure. And share a few of my own.

I hope, also, to have better luck uploading Austria pictures than I’ve had with Ireland pictures. So perhaps you shall see some photographic evidence of my trip soon. Until then, so long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodbye…

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The two halves of the post title don’t actually connect in the way you’d think they would. Yes, I am glowing inside (and outside, as I am a little sunburned) from an absolutely fantastic four days in Ireland with Colton. (Though I am slightly knackered, especially after travelling all day today.) But I think the title is fun, so I’m leaving it up.

The real purpose of this post is to say that I am one of the new bloggers for the freshly relaunched Radiant Magazine web site. Click on the link and go to “Featured Blogs” – my post is called “Sacredness in the Everyday.” Alternatively, you can go to Blogs and scroll down to Sacred Spaces. I’ll be posting on there fairly regularly from here out. This post is just a little snippet, written in haste before I went off to Ireland. But I hope you enjoy it anyway. There’ll be much more to come.

Off to bed…slainte (Irish for “cheers”)!

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Off to the Emerald Isle

Drinking a cup of strawberry tea from a polka-dotted mug, with my birthday flowers (still perky) on the table, and Jo typing on her laptop nearby. Just wanted to say that I’m off to Ireland tomorrow! Colton Mailes, my dear friend since childhood (our dads grew up together and our grandparents are great friends), is studying abroad in Galway this semester. I’ve never been to Ireland (and I haven’t seen him in a couple of years), so I’m flying into Dublin and then taking a bus to Galway to spend a long weekend with him. Weather permitting, we shall be hiking and biking and generally enjoying ourselves in western Ireland. I’m so excited! Pictures and stories to come when I return!

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I’m here!

I arrived at London Gatwick at 10 a.m. local time this morning, to cloudy skies and cigarette smoke and heavy luggage. I arrived in Oxford around 1:30 p.m., to sunshine and blue skies and Jacque! My dear friend, who was waiting for me at the bus station, flung her arms around me and exclaimed, “Welcome home!” I am home, indeed.

We took a taxi to Canterbury Road, lugged my stuff into the foyer of House 10, and had a lovely lunch in the House 9 back garden with my two favourite Morgans. Talk and laughter flew back and forth like the bees who buzzed around, apparently attracted to our food and the flowers nearby (which freaked Jacque out slightly). After a hot shower, Jacque and I strolled down to City Centre, where we had tea and scones at Queen’s Lane Coffee House, supposedly the oldest in Oxford (est. 1654).

Jacque left to go meet her boyfriend, Mike, for dinner at his house, and I wandered back home, taking pictures all the way. Stopped in the 9-to-9 on North Parade to buy a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar and a nectarine, for a total of 84 pence. (Thank goodness for cheap fruit and loose change found in a drawer recently.) I then made myself some homemade pizza and have been chillin’ out.

So I’m here. Not even too badly jet-lagged. And ready for a whole new adventure in my other home. I do miss my Jeremiah already. But tonight, my heart is at rest.

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I have spent my last night in the little flat, sung my heart out at Highland for the last time (for a while), hugged every member of my beloved Lifeteam, squeezed all my stuff into Jeremiah’s storage unit (thank you, honey – and everyone who helped!) and all of my clothes into my suitcases and my parents’ closets. I have bought a new camera, as my beloved old one has been acting up for a couple of months. I have weighed my two huge suitcases at least four times each. I will probably wind up paying at least one overage fee.

I have had coffee and hugs and tears and smiles with various girlfriends – Kathy, Amanda, Barbara, Jana, Dawne, Charity, Grace, Leigh Anne, and two Julies. I have spent two nights with my dear friends the Montgomerys – Monday night because I planned to and Tuesday night because I just couldn’t leave. I have cuddled with my J every night for the past two and a half weeks, and I have finally held him and cried with him and blown him a last kiss goodbye. We still have several phone conversations to go. And we will see each other via Skype soon – and for real in just under four months.

I have eaten half a dozen Tex-Mex meals in the last few days (thanks to Cole and other friends) – stocking up because I won’t get any for a while. I have left my wedding ring with my mother, my plants with Grace, and a large part of my heart in Abilene. And I am ready. Ready for this new adventure, which holds all sorts of things known and unknown. And my plane out of Midland leaves in 16 hours – and my flight out of Dallas leaves tomorrow at 7 p.m.

So here’s goodbye, here’s so long
I must go and follow love
I feel my heart movin’ on
I must go and follow love
Carry on while I’m gone
This is what I’ve been dreamin’ of
I’ll miss you so, but I must go
Go and follow love

-”Follow Love,” FFH

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Well, technically to London, but that’s not the point. The point is…I am GOING! Going to Oxford Brookes to earn a master’s degree and discuss books with people who love them as much as I do. Going to work with the Morgans at the ACU houses as the admin assistant/keeper of Ron’s sanity. Going to walk down Cornmarket and through Port Meadow and up and down Headington Hill again and again. Going to St. Aldates for dozens of Sundays. Going to live in the same city as Jacque for two fantastic semesters. Going to live with Lizzie and Jo and Grace in a charming little house in Ablett Close. Going back to the city that has my heart…and traveling while I’m there to lots of other cities that have pieces of it…or will.

“It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap…”

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I’ve been promising Oxford highlights and pictures so here’s the first installment. See Jeremiah’s blog for a marathon post about his experience of Oxford, coming soon. I will break mine into more bite-size chunks, but here we go:

After arriving at London Gatwick at 8 a.m. Saturday, we took a bus to Oxford and ran into my friend Katie at the bus station. She was waiting for her sister Kara, who was in Oxford with me three years ago and was coming to visit. After hugs hello, we did exactly what I had told everyone we’d first do in Oxford: we walked home.

Home. Houses 9 and 10, on Canterbury Road…a quiet street in North Oxford, the southern border of St. Hugh’s College. Two brick Victorian houses, stuffed with students and mismatched dishes and textbooks and laptop computers and green sheets (the standard-issue ones from the college) and lots of love. Where I learned the meaning of living in community, three years ago this semester. Where my heart will always be at home, no matter who’s occupying the rooms.

After dumping our bags at House 10, we ran next door and pounded on Janine’s office door; she squealed with joy, then squealed into the phone when Ron called at that very moment. We headed into her lovely living room for a good hour of sitting in the sunshine and catching up. Future plans, present life, friends, Oxford, travel, memories…it all enters the conversation with Janine instantly, and I so enjoyed the chance to be with her again. She is someone with whom time is always rich, no matter if it’s five minutes or five hours.

We eventually made it to On the Hoof, the best sandwich shop in Oxford:

I purchased my traditional favourite, the Sexy Brazilian (for the uninitiated, chicken tikka on a panini with tomato, cheese and mango chutney, toasted). Motivated by the unexpectedly sunny day, we took our sandwiches to the park, where we beheld this loveliness:

After finishing lunch, we strolled around the park for a while, taking in the spring flowers and breezes and students playing rugby and football. We both needed a nap, though (neither of us had slept on the plane), so we headed back to the houses where I crashed for an hour. When I went down to wake Jeremiah up, he fell asleep again while I was talking to him (or so he claims), so I had to go down a second time 45 minutes later. I wasn’t being mean – you’re not supposed to nap for more than an hour or two, in order to get your body adjusted to the six-hour time difference. It really was for his own good!

We had planned to head out for dinner, but hopped next door to House 9 to check if Kara had ever come in. She had and was up in the top-floor kitchen talking with her Katie. J and I hung out up there for a while, chitchatting and trading memories, then headed downstairs with the intention of going out for dinner. (Jacque, my hostess for the week, had gone bungee jumping in Bristol – see her blog for more about that – so we didn’t see her until Sunday.)

Since I hadn’t seen Ron yet, we knocked on the Morgans’ door to say hello, and when J found out that Ron was watching football, it was obvious he reeeeally wanted to stay. :) Janine, who is among the most welcoming people I know, invited us for dinner (fresh ravioli cooked in broth, in big blue bowls), and the four of us had a fascinating conversation. History, sociology, culture, politics, faith and humor are all a part of any Ron Morgan discourse, and they were all present that night. ‘Twas quite fun; also informative and rich. We left well after 9 p.m. with hugs and promises of an invite for “a real dinner” (Janine’s phrase, not ours) later in the week.

Here’s a picture of the Morgans, actually taken last year at Spring Break…two treasures.

It was off to G&D’s after that – the BEST ice cream in the UK, I’m convinced. They have some lovely innovative flavours and a fun atmosphere, and they’re open until midnight (handy in a town where lots of stuff, except pubs and clubs, close at six). Then back to the houses and to bed. We were exhausted.

Sunday morning brought more sunshine, a joyous reunion with Jacque, and a long, lovely walk to St. Aldates, past so many things I love: St. Giles’s Church, the Church of St. Mary Magdalen with its joyfully cacophonous bells, the pedestrian section of Cornmarket, half a dozen Oxford colleges, the High Street, and finally Christ Church, with its imposing Tom Tower. We eventually arrived here:

This place is, quite simply, my other home. Joyful, sensitive worship; a mix of people of all cultures, ages, education levels and walks of life; several inspiring ministers who know how to preach the Word; a vibrant student ministry that took us right in when I was here before; and people who remember you, no matter how long you’ve been gone. My American friend Michelle and my French friend Francois were delighted to see me and to meet Jeremiah. He loved hearing my witty, brilliant friend Simon preach; he loved the worship; he loved going up to the front to take communion. (“The body of Christ, broken for you, keep you in eternal life.” I love those words.) I am always overjoyed to be back at St. Aldates; my heart is at home there. This time was no exception.

After church Jacque led us up the Cowley Road (southeast Oxford) for lunch at a pizza cafe; yummy and fun, and we got to catch up with her a bit. Her boyfriend Mike came and met us later; we all drove back to the ACU houses in Mike’s car and watched their bungee jumping video from Saturday. We watched part of a movie before heading to a very different kind of church – this one meets in a community centre in the Cowley area. It’s called hOME, and is an offshoot of St. Aldates, of sorts. Sort of like a house church with a Taize influence and a liturgical bent – a bit like small group, sans small children, and with a contemplative aspect. Warm, sweet people, who were very glad to welcome us. I had been once before, but was glad to go again and take J.

That wraps up the weekend…more pictures and stories to come, but I’m out for now, dear ones. Happy Sunday!

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Oxford, in brief

Now that we’re back in Abilene, we seem to be getting the weather we expected but didn’t have in Oxford (cloudy, windy, possibly rainy and quite changeable). Oxford, by contrast, was windy, but unexpectedly warm and sunny. It was putting on a pretty face for my Jeremiah, of course, who quite enjoyed meeting and getting to know my favourite city.

We walked around nearly the whole perimeter of the city, ate at several of my fave places (On the Hoof, G&D’s, Ali’s kebab van and the Morgans’ kitchen), enjoyed a long, worshipful service at St. Aldate’s and a highly entertaining sermon from my friend Simon, visited meadows, parks and markets, and spent loads of time with my lovely Jacque and her charming Mike.

More stories and pictures to come…but yes, we are back in Abilene; yes, we are now un-jet-lagged; yes; we had a lovely time; and yes, I cried as we left Oxford. But I am going back. Which makes the leaving, not easy, but bearable.

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Countdown to Oxford

We leave in a DAY! Eeeeeeeeeee!

Today so far: tying up loose ends at work, sending reminder emails, piles of paperwork, CAYA chapel, leftover lasagna lunch with Heather, blossoming trees outside my office window. This is the week to have an office window in Abilene, for sure. These trees are covered with delicate white star-shaped blossoms, and the bees, living up to legend, are busy. According to Glenn, by the time we get back from Spring Break they’ll be in full leaf. I almost hope not…I don’t want all the bloomy loveliness to go away so soon.

Tonight: dinner date at Chili’s with J (thank heaven for gift cards and not having to cook), last-minute trip to Wal-Mart, PACKING, slipping out to coffee night with the ladies. In a day and a half we’ll be on the other side of the pond. Worship at St. Aldate’s, ice cream at G&D’s, sandwiches at On the Hoof, browsing lots and lots of bookstores, showing J ALL my favourite places in my favourite city. I can’t WAIT!

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