Journey to Oxford
The last time my daughter studied in the UK it was for her junior year at LSE. My husband traveled with her to help with luggage and to ensure a proper set up in her room and with the school. This year, for her last semester of law school, she was accepted into the Global Alliance Program at the University of Oxford. Since orientation was scheduled during the same week of the New Year’s Revival at Highland Park, my husband was obligated stateside. This meant mama was up at bat. I would be the luggage bearer and move in assistant. Though a bit concerned about my luggage toting ability, which is why I dusted off my hand weights, I was excited to visit the UK again.
The bonus of this trip was that I would visit Oxford, where my father spent time in study during the summer of 2007. Prior to our travel, I found two photos from my dad’s time at Oxford. We knew we could locate the Bath Place Hotel, where he stayed. Locating Arlosh Hall, where he is pictured with members of his cohort, took some effort, as the letters in the photo were not as clear. Success came when Lilybelle was getting her student id and the student administrator told her that Arlosh Hall is the dining hall for Harris Manchester College. Side note about the Bath Place Hotel, the well-known mystery writer Dorothy L Sayers lived there in the 1910’s. Even juicier, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor rendezvoused there when he made appearances at the Oxford Playhouse.
With our destination locations mapped Lilybelle and I set out to see these sites. My experience seeing the Bath Place Hotel was emotionally layered. It never occurred to me that I would one day travel to Oxford, it was not on my list. And yet, standing there I was grateful to God for filling a longing in my heart unknown to me. Only when I started walking around did I realize how much I wanted to see where my dad had studied and where I would leave my daughter for study. In the same moments I knew that when my dad stayed at the hotel, he experienced a symptom related to his prostate for the first time. Seeing the outside stairs to the guestrooms, I imagined him going up the stairs with his bags and looking forward to his studies while feeling a physical toll. I had a real feelings soup of awe, teariness, joy tinged with melancholy and incredible wonder.
When Lilybelle and I walked to Harris Manchester College, the woman who greeted us allowed us to go into Arlosh Hall, a beautiful dining hall. She also took us to the college chapel where I was able to sit and reflect on the goodness of God and the gift of this amazing experience.
Before heading back to the states, I spent a brief time in London. The Sunday before my return my daughter and I worshipped at Holy Trinity Brompton. We had a good time. I am so glad it came up on her Google church search. We heard a testimony from an artist, who painted portraits of the Queen and Prince Philip. He spoke about how the Alpha Group helped him after a move to Italy for marriage that did not come to pass. The message was delivered by Alex Rayment. His message was “What to do in the Storms of Life.” He reminded us of Jesus telling the disciples, when they were on the boat in the storm, to “Take courage, I am here, do not be afraid.” Pulled from his own experience with storms in his life Alex said, ‘Courage is moving forward and leaving fear behind.’ It was a well-timed message, both for me to part with my daughter on her way back to Oxford and for her to commence her studies.
Heading back to the states, with gratitude I knew a desire out of my awareness had come to life. Had I known and attached my wants and desires for such a journey it could not have turned out better. A prayer I had not prayed was answered. A longing absent my awareness was fulfilled. God did it.