Adventure: Oxford

                                                                                             All Souls College, Oxford

                                                                                             All Souls College, Oxford

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost. 

The old that is strong does not wither,

deep roots are not touched by frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,

The crownless shall again be King.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Really slacking on the weekend posts here...figured I would do better than last time and post before this weekend is over about our trip last weekend to Oxford...

In short...It was a blast! Here is my journal post for class about the weekend:

Oxford is a place that I have been interested in for a long time. In middle school I had aspirations of going either there or Cambridge for university. Obviously, there is the element of their prestige, but I think what more fascinates and attracts me to Oxbridge is the depth and history of the pursuit of knowledge that has taken place there. It baffles me to think of all of the discoveries that have been made, all of the books that have been written, all of the inspiration that has occurred there. Not to mention that the communities of the colleges, and the greater community of the town and university seemed very cool. I didn’t realize how deeply invested Tolkien and Lewis were in these communities until a few years ago when I started learning more about their personal lives. I loved our Inkling’s tour because not only did I love becoming acquainted with the town and university, but I also loved seeing the places where Tolkien and Lewis lived and worked.  Being there was like going to Giverny and seeing Monet’s gardens, something that is also on my bucket list. Oxford was obviously a place that deeply affected them both, and a place where they found inspiration—both in places and people. It is amazing that a place exists where it is semi-normal for a group of men to get together once a week and discuss their fantastical writing.

During our free time I explored Blackwells for a good hour…and that was speeding. At home, when I am grumpy, sad, or just bored I have been known to drive to the nearest bookstore and just peruse for a while. Never fails to make me feel better. It is when I am standing between shelves of books that I find my happy place, or one of them at least. Therefore, being in Blackwells bordered on euphoric. I don’t think I need to say more.

After Blackwells we explored a bit, and then Ali and I settled into a really neat café/bar/restaurant coffee shop for some coffee and reading time. Although some people may think that it’s a shame we sat inside for an hour reading when we could have been exploring, I actually felt like I was really experiencing authentic Oxford…tucked in a corner of a cool coffee shop, surrounded by people hard at work, doing my own reading, while enjoying a delicious cream tea with a bowl of fresh strawberries. It was divine.

I have to say, my favorite part of the whole weekend was visiting the Kilns. It was so close to how I pictured it! I thought that our tour was great, and I loved hearing the anecdotes about Jack’s daily life, as well as his companions. It was surreal to stand in the room where he wrote some of his greatest works, to look out the window where he gazed as he thought about Narnia or about grace.  Lewis’s theological (I know Tolkien would probably object to his works being classified as theological, but I don’t) works have had a profound influence not only on my faith, but also on the people who helped to shape my faith. Learning that there is a community of people who still live in his house and discuss Christianity and faith was very moving for me. Honestly, going to the Kilns almost felt like a pilgrimage of sorts. Knowing that this was a place where C.S. Lewis encountered God frequently and vividly made it feel holy.  I won’t be quick to forget our time there, and I hope that I can someday go back to the Kilns, and maybe even spend some time there.

                                                                                    Lovely roses outside Lewis's house...

                                                                                    Lovely roses outside Lewis's house...

Notes:

We spent two friday and saturday in Oxford. We toured all over the town, and had private tours of the

Bodleian library , as well as  C.S. Lewis's house, The Kilns (which is now a very cool christian study center).

                                     The Bodleian Library

                                     The Bodleian Library

We also visited Tolkien's house, his grave, Lewis's grave, and the church where Lewis worshiped. Incredible. I may or may not have recited the poem by Tolkien at the beginning of this post by memory. All you FOCUS kids holla at me. 

C.S. Lewis's Church

C.S. Lewis's Church

                                            C.S. Lewis's Grave

                                            C.S. Lewis's Grave

                                                The Kilns

                                                The Kilns

                                                                                                       Tolkien's Grave

                                                                                                       Tolkien's Grave

 

Blackwells is the insanely huge and amazing bookstore based in Oxford. On friday we had lunch at the Eagle and Child, which is where Tolkien and Lewis met with their literary group, The Inklings, every tuesday to share and critique each other's work. They called it "the bird and the baby."

That night after dinner we went to a great (and tiny! and hidden!) pub called the Turf, a 13th c. ale house, recommended by JR Richey.

That last one is for you, Dad! xoxo