Category Archives: Living in London

England doesn’t see the sun much… so God gave it daffodils

One of the most wonderful things I’ve experienced here is something that I’ve heard about, something I could describe, something I’ve read about so often I thought it was cliche… spring. Right now in California the weather is typically California: 70 one day, 90 the next, 80 after that, sunny, rainy, cloudy, humid. I never knew what spring was. I now understand why countless English poets and authors have found an unquenchable fountain of inspiration in this amazing phenomenon. Every day is a little warmer. Every day a few more daffodils bloom. Every day I hear birds singing earlier in the morning and later in the evening. These words are indeed cliche, but the experience of spring is something that could never get old.

I just got back from a weekend in Oxford. How refreshing to be back in that city! Such a different feel from London. Everything is so close. I miss walking on those streets, surrounded by history but fully participating in modern culture. I visited my friend Kate and we had a great time. The Oxford Literary Festival was going on so I got to indulge in looking at all the newest books published and write down some titles to hopefully buy cheaper on Amazon later 🙂 Also, there was a chocolate festival! Free samples, yes please. We ate lunch at my favorite tea shop, The Rose, and had dinner at the famous Eagle and Child (the Bird and Baby, as it’s known colloquially).

This morning we went to church at St. Aldate’s, a charismatic, contemporary Anglican church. When I was at Oxford I preferred not to attend there because it was a little too close to normal. I wanted to experience the rigid, reverent traditions of the high Anglican churches. And that was perfect for me at the time. Today, I needed the homey comfort of a contemporary service. The most important thing was that I felt the Holy Spirit in those people, and I experienced fellowship, which I haven’t felt since I’ve been here. It just reaffirmed how important a church family is, to gather with people not just for the sake of socializing, but to share in experiencing God together and encouraging each other in our personal relationships with Him. They held an infant baptism, and I was able to share in the joy of that congregation welcoming a beautiful infant into the church. Again, spring. New life. Nowhere is new life seen more than in the church.

I’m back now in London at my home for the next 16 days. I’m anxious, impatient to go home. This internship has been awesome and I would love to keep doing this work, if only I could be wherever my fiance and family and friends are. I’m starting to get excited about planning my wedding. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always been excited, but London had to happen first. Now that it has and I’m close to finishing, I’m looking ahead to what’s next. Just a few more days.

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Thoughts Underground

So many people…trying so hard not to look each other in the eye. Studying the newspaper or book in front of them like their lives depend on it. Listening to their iPods, staring at the ground with a bemused smile that conveys that they are happily engrossed in their own amusement. Heaven forbid your forgot your book or your iPod and then you are in a sad state indeed, staring at the floor or reading the ads with your arms crossed and a sullen expression, wondering what the heck that crazy girl is doing scribbling in her journal. Probably American…

Everyone is rocking gently, swaying, the train humming as it glides over the tracks, sometimes a snap as it hits stray bumps.

My favorite is when kids get on the tube and tumble in, tripping, noisy, into the car. “Sit down, sit down!” their mummies hiss. “Leave the nice lady alone.” Then the little girl mischievously scooches next to her mum and proceeds to stare at everyone who is studiously avoiding her gaze, no one talking. Glued to their books. Their IVs.

Sometimes I sneak a smile…

As you get further into central London in the morning, the trains suddenly start to get packed with people. Men and women in their businesswear—suits and boots and heels and peacoats. I look just like them and I always share a secret joke with myself, thinking, “Everyone thinks I’m British.”

During the morning or after work rush, you’re lucky if you get an inch of space to breathe, let alone a seat. And yet the tube gods have no mercy; the Tube Rule reigns supreme: “Don’t look anyone in the eye!” I swear the British perform fantastic feats of contortionism to obey this Rule. One foot wedged between the seat and a briefcase, straddling someone else’s suitcase, the other foot on tiptoe, gingerly leaning across to hold on to the handrail, and always, always keep your book in front of your eyes!! And the women do it in heels.

“The next station is Baker Street. Change for the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, and Metropolitan lines. Exit here for Madame Tussauds.”

Step over someone’s leg, duck under an arm, squeeze between a backpack and a body, and you might get out before the doors close.

A man standing with a microphone, projecting in his best stadium announcer voice:

“MIND the gap! Please allow the customers to get off the train before boarding. This train is now ready to depart! MIND the closing doors!!”

Get out, swipe your Oyster Card, and breathe.

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