Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If you don't know what Stourhead is, you should find out real quick.

When I was twelve or thirteen, I was searching the internet for pictures of beautiful places I wanted to go someday. I stumbled across a picture of a beautiful garden, and I decided that although I had no idea what and where Stourhead Gardens were, I wanted to go there someday.

Today I did. :)

Pictures and more commentary to come.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Night Thames

The tide is out
and I can see the dryness
of the grimy river bed below.

Murky mashed potato clouds glimmer below
Leftovers from sunset's dazzling feast.
Cozy, delicious darkness swathes me
Oozing like melted chocolate under the bridge where I stand
over that perfect Wren-dome
between buildings and people
glittery lights dotting the cocoa-dark.

Voices gurgle through this chocolate night
Here to sample this feast of the city.

Like me.

And below them all, shadowy water lap-lap-laps
against concrete girders.

I devour this place
With crisp air that smells like Christmas
making my fingers and face shivery.

I get goosebumps
Inhale more Christmas-air
I swallow it whole.
It leaves me weak with wonder
And wanting more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

York and Fountains Abbey

I haven't blogged in a very long time. However, this is primarily because our internet here has been so spotty that I haven't been able to get onto blogger. So these next few posts will attempt to catch up a bit.

We took a trip to the north of England for a week, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. Since I first learned what the Lake District was as starry-eyed thirteen-year-old, I've wanted to go there. Isn't it funny how it feels when we start realizing our dreams? That week in the north was a fulfillment of a dream I've had for years, and now that I've accomplished it, I continue on, making and living more dreams.

While we were in the north, two of my favorite stops were Fountains Abbey, and Yorkminster Cathedral. I love going to these old Christian churches—it’s wonderful to see the kinds of things they did to worship back before the church was restored. While we were at Yorkminster, there was a choir there practicing, and after our tour, it was time for the Evensong service. So we went to it. I haven’t been to very many other Christian religious services—mostly just non-Christian ones. Yorkminster Cathedral is the largest cathedral north of the Alps, and it’s quite famous, apparently. I really loved touring it and learning about its history with the choir singing in the background. It made me want to sing again. I don’t get to do much of that here. Just hearing the choir sing transformed the whole experience from "just another church tour" to a kind of spiritual experience.

Fountains Abbey has become one of my favorite places I've ever been. Seeing that magnificent structure at its bare minimum was awe-inspiring, and thought-provoking too. I had lots of deep thoughts. You know, about the transience of humanity, the perpetuation of nature and life in spite of man’s impact on the earth, and our divine natures—our (I think) innate desire to learn of and draw closer to God or whatever people all over the world call Deity. However, they were deep thoughts that can't really be recaptured and constrained to a blog post, so you'll just have to believe me without knowing what the thoughts actually were. :) I was able to write down some of my thoughts, go exploring around the ruins and surrounding gardens, and spend some time with the other girls in the program. All in all, a fabulous day. I plan to go back there the next time I come to England.