Sunday, March 25, 2007

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!

4 Comments:

Blogger Walking by Walden said...

I'm so glad your trip was sunny and lovely. Thanks for the detailed account. I can just imagine it. I'm even more glad that you'll be there next year!!!

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

I love, love reading about Oxford here...and I consider you the expert. :-) Thanks for the (hour and a half!) lunch today. I am eagerly anticipating my spring Radiant issue!

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Katie -- I got my Radiant issue today! Your article is extraordinary in every way. I am happy to have such an accomplished writer in my former flat! :-)

3:30 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

What fun to read about your adventures. So glad to know you and J had a great time catching up with dear friends and reconnecting with a place you love--two of the best things ever, I think!

11:38 AM  

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