A Quick Word

"In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism." -Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)

29 June 2011

Getting ready to go.

I feel like I'm packing my memories into a suitcase.

As the birds chirp outside and the sun falls behind the treeline, casting the chimneys outside my window into silhouette, I sit here at my desk, listening to a lecture and typing this entry while drinking a bottle of Hobgoblin and trying to center myself before my time in England comes to an end. I feel unable to register my place in this story, unable to understand that come this Sunday, I will be in Chicago, sleeping in my own bed, and rediscovering all the clothes I've forgotten about during this past six months. I'll unpack. I'll look through my things. If I'm lucky, I might shed a tear.

On the plane I will pen a long entry in my journal, filling the last twenty or so pages with the wrist-aching ink-spill of my last month in York, my last memories, and my last recollections. I'll sum up. I'll process.

Until then, I'll attend my last Evensong at the Minster tomorrow night and hope to head to the pub afterwards with David and those who I have grown close. I will spend tomorrow in town. I will walk the cobbled streets and the strong stone walls around the city and take pictures of everything I see. I will try to soak it all in and I know I will fail. It will slip through my hand like sand or like water, and I will wish time would slow to a standstill for just long enough to etch the skyline into my memory or burn the beauty of the museum gardens into my mind.

And yet, despite the way my words may sound, I do not lament the end of my time here if for no other reason than I do not think it the end. I feel confident I will return, and that I should look forward to my return home rather than mourn the end of my stay in York. Time's march forward is a necessary part of life. It cannot be avoided.

My time here as a visiting student is over; this chapter has closed. I cannot stay here under these same auspices, as the purpose of this trip has been fulfilled and the next part of my journey takes place at home. I've relished my time here, but I look forward to taking the changes that have transpired within me back to my life in the States, back to normalcy, to resume the narrative after this quick break for rejuvenation and discernment.

And so it is with excitement and gratitude that I turn my attention to coming home, to having traveled (in the words of Bilbo Baggins) "there and back again."

21 June 2011

The end of my stay in God's Own Country.

Well, I made it.

I finished my exams on Friday, handed them in 20 minutes before the due date, and promptly made plans to go to the pub (while still standing at the printer, no less!). After having a few pints, playing some pool, and devouring a delicious meal, I wandered back toward Fulford Rd. with my friend, Philip, who I met through the Minster (and who is a PhD candidate in Nuclear Physics at the univ.). The evening didn't seem to be over, and so Philip produced a bottle of gin and some unopened tonic water, which was the birth of a long and glorious conversation about all sorts of things that lasted well into the night.

I spent Saturday in town, making to Evensong that night, and, exhausted, went to bed (relatively) early.

The following day, Trinity Sunday, I made sure I looked smart and then walked to the Minster earlier than usual in order to make it in time to snag a good seat for David's ordination. The service-- though rather long-- was wonderful, and the party afterwards was great fun. After going through too much champagne, I attended Evensong, got roped into attending choral practice, and then ate a wonderful stew at the House of Trembling Madness before walking back to Fulford with Philip.

I give you this brief (and context-less) rundown of my weekend simply to say that it is because of times like these that I will miss York the most. Spending time with friends in the lantern glow of a pub or having one of the world's most magnificent Gothic cathedrals as the lynchpin of my spiritual life are things that won't travel with me back to the States. I leave them here with a heavy heart.

Because I'm predictable, I expect I'll write an inordinately long post awash in nostalgia reflecting on my time here in York, and I expect I will do this in the coming weeks. But for now I will say only this: I will miss it here.

10 June 2011

One of the reasons I respect +Rowan.

From an article in The Guardian written by Nick Spencer:

The archbishop's controversy rests, instead, on his impressive ability to annoy both ends of the political spectrum. Lefties (or most of them) have cheered his contribution to debates on urban poverty, income inequality, criminal justice, asylum and environment, but booed him on issues of abortion, embryology, sexuality, education and the family.
 Those on the right have, predictably, done the reverse. This should be encouraging, if not actually comforting, for Christians. It underlines the idea that the gospel for which the archbishop is such a prominent ambassador cuts rudely across our narrow political mentalities.

I wish the gospel could "[cut] rudely across" America's "narrow political mentalities," too.

08 June 2011

Like throwing stones into an empty well.

The past couple of weeks have been a blur: studying for an open exam, taking the exam, packing, hiking in the Lake District for a couple of days, coming back, last week of lectures, preparing for a second exam...

I didn't want it to get too quiet over here. In the bits of spare time I've had, I have worked on a couple of new posts that explore some of the ideas swirling around in my head, and I look forward to getting those finished soon.

For now, I can only sit at my desk, unable to process the set of complex emotions brought on by my last weeks in England.

What a glorious time it has been. I could fill pages upon pages with the ways in which this trip has changed me, has, in every way, changed the very course of my life. It was everything I needed it to be, and even more than I wanted it to be. And I wouldn't be surprised if, as I watch the spires of the Minster disappear into the distance as my train heads for London, a tear comes to my eye for the loss of this wonderful life spent among wonderful friends.

That said, I miss home. I miss my friends, my family, my fiance. I miss my bed and my house and Chicago. I miss Nashville. I miss Franklin. I miss U of I, and I miss-- I hesitate to say-- the bustle of life that it brings.

I could (and perhaps will) write a rather long post on the one thing that irks me about England: I grow tired of nighttime conversations slipping inevitably into anti-American tirades filled with contradictions and often-uninformed accusations. My usually substantial reserve of patience has reached about as much as it can take in that regard. In my quest not to seem contentious, I find that I just bottle my frustrations rather than let my views come out. I let wrong be wrong. Perhaps that's the wrong tack to take.

With a dazzling afternoon of reading about the history of the footnote (yes, I'm serious) before me, I suppose I should bring this to a close. Look for something much more interesting in the coming days.