July 27
July 27 E-mail

Recovery Day

Landing and passport check at Heathrow went smoothly.  I got my huge bag and began the journey toward the Central Bus Station.  This was one of my big fears: finding the bus station and boarding the right bus to Oxford.  The directional signs that led me through the airport to the bus station all had "Chapel" printed underneath and the icon of a stick figure kneeling.  To me, it was a reminder of God's presence even with respect to this little detail of my journey.  I laughed to myself -- if I miss the bus, I can go to the Chapel and pour out my heart to God. 

I intentionally planned to arrive a day before the conference in order to recover from jetlag.  I booked a room at The Pickwick, a charming B&B in Headington.  Since the plan was on time and I didn't miss the bus, I arrived at The Pickwick two and half hours early.  Understandably, the room was not made up.  I agreed to wait in the garden.  It was sunny, 83° with an occasional breeze.  Perfect weather!  I sat on a bench in front of a small lily pond bordered by flowers and read while sipping tea.  Total relaxation after my long journey.  The wait for the room bothered me not-at-all because reading in the garden was my intended pastime all along. 

pickwick garden

The Pickwick garden

I heard an unfamiliar bird call.  At first, I thought it was an owl.  Now I think it is a dove of some sort.  A large dove with a distinct coo.  The garden is beautiful ... huge pots of petunias.  A small fountain in the lily pond provides a soothing background sound of trickling water.  The colors are intense: very green with splashes of purple, periwinkle, pink and orange.  White butterflies flit about. 

When I could go to my room, the shower was equally refreshing.  I felt a layer of grime and sweat melt away. 

The conventional advice when changing time zones is to avoid a nap.  Force yourself too stay awake and then retire at a reasonable hour for the new time zone.  In order to do this, I had to get out and walk around.  Pickwick's Guest House is on the corner of London Road and Sandfield Road.  I strolled down Sandfield wondering what it would be like to live in one of these houses with miniature walled gardens in front.  One of the houses, 76 Sandfield, was home to the Tolkiens in the 1960s.  There is a small plaque to that effect on the front of the house. 

Finally, I walked to a Subway and got a very American sandwich which I ate in my room while watching BBC-TV.  As it was Sunday evening, there was a program called "Songs of Praise."  It featured cathedral choirs.  I enjoyed the music and a look at restorations of historic churches around England.

Time for bed.  Again, Bev found the best poem ... or rather God led her to poem a couple weeks before my feet started on the journey. 

* * * * * *

Love, traveling in the greatness of His strength,
            found me alone,
Wearied a little by the journey's length,
            though I had known,
All the long way, many a kindly air,
And flowers had blossomed for me everywhere.

And yet Love found me fearful, and He stayed;
            Love stayed by me.
‘Let not thy heart be troubled or dismayed,
            my child,' said he.
Slipped from then all troubles, all alarms;
For Love had gathered me into his arms.

            ~ Amy Carmichael