Friday, April 25, 2014


I feel cramped and anxious like I’m trying to walk a tightrope in shoes too small. Why? Seventh months and 18 days later, I figure it out. 
 There was this road in Oxford that ran through the little heart of the outlying village of Wolvercote. If you followed it all the way to the canal and along the river some, you would come to a big arching bridge over the water. Now on a bicycle, which is the best way to see it, it’s a bit of a struggle to pedal to the top and avoid any nearby cars. Since there are thick trees on either side, all you can see is the crest of the hill, but once you get to the top, miles of meadow suddenly open up before you. The sky is vast, the meadow stretches wide and your soul feels like it’s never been free before this very moment.
You roll down the hill and see the wild horses that wander this side of the meadow. There are footpaths crisscrossing the green, and willows line the water. In my mind I can see past the little pub, down the road , over the stone bridge to the ruins of an abbey on the banks of a very old river. It’s like slipping into a comfy chair by the fire on a cold night.
 The oldness, the quietness and the vastness make you feel small, and it’s the most wonderful feeling you can have. It’s the closest thing I can say to describe C.S Lewis’s joy. Others used words like pain or longing to describe it but nothing quite pinpoints it.

Back to my problem. The only thing that makes me feel this way is to be immersed in something ancient, still, vast or wild and green. There is none of that in the city in which I live. In fact, the culture disdains the first two and the third isn't really possible, being as the city at it’s essence is a barely inhabitable swamp. I can’t sit in a pub older than my country and marvel at the ephemeral nature of our lives as I laugh with friends. I can’t listen to robed youth sing songs in a dead language by candlelight while gazing up at images of a faith that spans millennia. I can’t take a short cut to the library through a winding cobblestone alley where uncounted feet have tread since medieval days. I can’t even find a wild, overgrown green space where I can wander with my thoughts all to myself.
Instead, I have modern ugly buildings that house churches that avoid most symbols of the faith if they possibly can. I have overly manicured and crowded public parks. I have traffic. I have noise.
My insides are going through joy withdrawals and there’s nothing I can feed it. I try anyway, with fairy stories, sci-fi novels and Netflix but obviously to no avail.

The only thing I have is God. He is beyond the concept of ancient, He knows stillness. He is wildness and he is more than vast. It is hard to see sometimes and I would very much like some physical manifestations of the things that cause me joy but I can hold on to the fact that I have and serve and love and know the Source.

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