Blogs - Summit Oxford
March 31, 2011
Reflections and the Blessing of Solitude
After a whole week of lovely sunshine and zephyrs, I woke to distant fog this morning. Since my final tutorial last week I have been a bit melancholy; today’s weather is much more fitting for pondering than the recent glorious spring days.
End of term at Oxford is filled with a bittersweet feeling of relief from intense days of study, yet missing those very hours upon hours spent expanding my mind and asking questions of the texts. It is as if a continuing conversation has come to a premature end. There is so much more that I want to know about Romantic poetry and its authors. And I have only just begun to understand the philosophical, political, social, educational, and spiritual climate of the American Colonies and France in their respective “revolutions”. Eight weeks were not enough to uncover the answers to all of my questions. Nor were they enough to learn the rest of the questions.
Then there is the loss of fellow-minded conversation and lectures at the C. S. Lewis Society each week. Even more acute is the void in the evening from 6.00-7.00, normally filled by evensong at New College (and on occasion at Christ Church Cathedral). That is a blow from which I might never recover.
This week I have spent hours walking around parts of Oxford I had never yet seen, since they were not on the way to the library or chapel. I have visited many magnificent and beautiful colleges. I have meandered down Addison’s walk with a select few friends, purchased a first edition Lewis book, scouted out new places to visit, and sought solitude in familiar haunts. It has been a week of much needed stillness and time alone. Reflection on the last eight to ten weeks of work and adventure is vital.
These past few days have afforded me space to pray aloud; to speak of my faults and failures to the One who knows them, yet is big enough to hear them again. Indeed, He is the only One who can take my angry, unfiltered words of frustration and hurt. He is great enough to love me in spite of me. He is merciful to not simply leave me to suffer the consequences of what I have done. He is kind enough to change the desires of my heart. He is Love; and that means He will prune me in order to make me better. He will allow suffering and sorrow to forge me. He will not placate my sin, but excoriate me for it… Or it from me, as it were.
Where, oh where, would I be without stillness and solitude? No phone, no music, no chorus of voices ringing through the flat… Just silence and the steady footfalls of thoughts as they pad toward my pen or lips. If we did not have these times of solitude our souls would be impoverished. We would be but ephemeral bits of persons, not solid humans seeking to be more fully alive.
Summit Oxford Fellow (Hilary 2011)
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