Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to England

One of the days we were in England we took a day tour to Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and the Cotswolds. Scenes from the early Harry Potter movies were filmed at Warwick and Oxford. Warwick has great wax figures. In the picture it looks like Henry VIII was a big man, but we saw what we were told was his actual suit of armour. He couldn't have been much over 5'5" if that tall. When you see the beds the kings and queens slept in, if they slept together, you think they had to have side rails to keep from falling off the sides. The stories about these people is "bigger than life."

Same goes for William Shakespeare. We visited his home in Stratford. Small rooms, low ceilings. A man, who in death, is bigger than life, and we aren't even sure Will wrote all those lovely sonnets and plays. In the book "Sweet Swan of Avon" Robin Williams makes a good case that the actual author was a woman named Mary Sinclair.

I've always thought of Oxford as one big university. In fact it's many small colleges in the same town. One of those buildings houses the great dining hall in the Potter movies. It's still used to feed students. The film company used it for the first two films then built their own in Hollywood, or somewhere. The dining hall looks the same as it does in the movie, just no flying postal owls that we saw.

I've heard of the Cotswolds for a long time, but as far as I discerned, they're just villages with little houses that look a lot alike.

The rest of our time in London was spent touring the Tower of London where Henry VIII had some of his wives held and beheaded and where many people the royals didn't like for one reason or another were tortured and killed. When you think about it, why do we want to visit a place like that? We loved seeing St. Paul's Cathedral.This church belongs to the people. Westminster Abbey belongs to the royals. That's why Princess Diana got married at St. Paul's rather than the Abbey. She was making a statement. Every hour a prayer is said at St. Paul's and an invitation given to anyone who wants to speak to one of the ministers about faith. The lady speaker when we were there spoke a blessing over all of those assembled. I needed that blessing. My body was giving out and we had 5 more days to go. By that night, after the all- day mostly-walking touring and seeing Phantom of the Opera (which is always good), I had red welts on my shins from so much walking. I think it was at that time I said, "No more." When pain in the body is greater than the experience, the time to do something else has come.

What is the meaning of all this? Life is one experience after another. Sometimes the experiences are wonderful, but they come to an end and all we have left are memories. On the other hand, some of the experiences are terrible, but they, too, come to an end and we're still left with the memories. Maybe that's why I write and read what other author's write. The Greek word for author is archegos. It means someone who begins something so that others may enter in to it. (The word is used in the book of Hebrews in the Bible about Jesus being the author of our salvation.) Someone somewhere writes about his experience. We read it and enter in to it. The next time I think about traveling to a far-away land, I'm just going to read about it!

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