Literary London (Spring Break 2010)
"London is an amazing city!"
Imagine departing Sunday morning worship from St. Giles Cripplegate Church aware that a church has stood on this site since 900 AD. Much of the current church building, having sustained heavy damage during the Blitz of World War II, still stands as a testament to the faithfulness of God and her congregation's desire to honor God, reach the community with the gospel, and fellowship with one another. Observing a statue of John Milton below a plain window, we realize that we have worshipped in the same place where this man, and author of Paradise Lost, had confronted the God of all ages. Stepping through the heavy wooden door into the cool spring air, we saw remains of the ancient Roman Wall constructed in the early centuries shortly after Christ's earthly ministry. Now one begins to perceive what physical monuments can only suggest: "London is an amazing city."
From our vantage point high above the city in our London Eye capsule, we scanned the vast expanse below. Writing in her journal, class member Colleen Gilfoy reflected on London's rich history: "It was so breathtaking to see that much of London...to think how so much of this city burned and was restored. Isn't that like our walk with God. We are constantly being purified. We are torn apart but in due time, by Christ's side, we are renewed!" Others in the group recalled the mystical experience of Evensong in St. Paul's Cathedral--no longer as tourists, but as worshippers of God from many nations who were seated, in a sense, with those who have lived and worked in London for centuries.
Of course, we didn't miss a guided tour of the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, stops for traditional fish and chips and meat pies at historic inns and pubs, Indian food, an evening of live poetry at the Poetry Cafe on a quiet side street not far from bustling Covent Garden, and a moving performance of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation at the Old Vic. Theatre.
Along the way, we talked with Londoners in the parks, bookshops, and churches. We rode the Tube everywhere, observed the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at the Palace, and were overwhelmed by the size and opulence of Harrods, one of London's most famous deparment stores. Over afternoon tea, we laughed till we cried, told stories of our travels and lives, and grew closer to one another.
With airport strikes and Tube improvements, we almost did not make it back to Nyack as planned, but God was gracious, and though very tired, we returned from our journey with a new understanding and appreciation for the amazing city of London.