England Travel Journal – Epilogue

Stained Glass, St. Andrews Church, Aller, just at the moment
the sun shone around Alfred’s head

On the flight home I watched a movie, Empire of Light. The movie takes place in a movie a theater in England. Early in the movie the projectionist explains the magic of movies, stating that there is a “flaw” in the eye that doesn’t see the dark spaces between the between the lighted frames. This, he says, creates the illusion of movement. It was a nice metaphor for the story line in the movie and for our trip.

There were some dark spaces between lighted frames I presented in the blog posts. There was the horrible service at the hotel in Brighton. They had no parking for us at the hotel the night we arrived but promised they had reserved a spot for us the following night. The following night they told us they didn’t have a spot for us, but assured us our name was now in the book and there would be a spot for us the following night. Wrong again.

Then there was the barking dog in the bar two night in a row. The same dog with the same customer. There is something incongruous about spending twenty dollars for a martini in a nice bar and sipping it to the sound of a dog barking twenty feet away. I told our server I felt like I was in a kennel. In stereotypical English understatement she replied, “It’s not ideal.”

And how could I not mention the shower at the same hotel that sprayed with such force it created a vacuum pulling the shower curtain into the shower to cling to one’s body? I tried to point the shower head at the curtain to keep it off of me, but water got all over the floor. Then I noticed the warped, water damaged door and realized I had not been the first to try this.

Then there were the things we wanted to do but didn’t do. For the gals it was all three vineyards, which were closed on the day they had set aside for wine-tasting. For me it was not visiting the memorials on the coast where Augustine of Canterbury and Julius Caesar had landed.

But those dark spaces between the light will be forgotten, and what we will see in retrospect will be an interesting story illuminated by the light of God’s sovereign hand orchestrating circumstances, guiding us, and teaching us.

When I tell my colleagues and friends about the three separate “chance” meetings of three attorneys from Houston in a twelve hour span on the trip, including one at Windsor Castle, they are astonished and wonder what it could mean. To those who can hear it, I explain how it was a manifestation of the nearness of God.

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.”

Psalm 73:28.

And what’s more, it was actually four chance meetings because in the United Airlines Lounge at Heathrow Airport in London, I ran into the same attorney I ran into in the airport at Houston boarding a different plane to Amsterdam. She was on our flight from London back to Houston! What has happened since I returned to Houston has given even more meaning to these “chance” meetings, but I will save that for another post.

We will also remember with fondness all the C.S. Lewis sites. Lewis was not planned to be part of this trip, yet his house and Magdalen College, where he was gradually converted from Atheism to Christianity, will now be forever imprinted in our memories, along with the lesson the Lord taught us from his life.

We will remember Oxford in all its richness: The C.S. Lewis walk, Christ Church Cathedral, the Wesley’s meeting place, the Kings Arms Pub, Blackwells, the Bodleian Library, Duke Humfrey’s Library, the Radcliffe Camera, and the view from our hotel room every morning.

Then, as we journeyed south there was Guthrum’s baptismal font and Alfred in stained glass in the small church in Aller, which we found just as the sun shone a halo around Alfred’s head (see pic above). Nor will we forget, on the way back from a long enriching day at Canterbury, the “chance” finding of William the Conqueror’s fortress overseeing his landing spot on the English coast

And, of course, as always, there were the laughs and interesting conversation throughout the day, followed by the relaxing evenings around a table with a well-earned drink to discuss and reflect on the day’s events.

In short, the England Travel Journal was entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, and it was made all the more special by the nearness of our God. GS

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