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February 25, 2011

Things Considered Whilst Walking in the Drizzle

Today I walked down the sidewalks of Oxford and realized that it rather frustrates me that the British (and visitors to Oxford) don’t understand order. If you drive on the left side of the road, it should logically follow that you walk on the left side of the sidewalk. Ah, but no… Too often I find myself nearly having my head smashed by an unseen bus mirror because I am obliged to walk with traffic, rather than against it. Then there are those mental conversations about which way I need to sidestep to avoid oncoming pedestrians which result in a funny little dance. Left… No, right. No really, left. *Sigh*

While observing my fellow travellers sloshing through the drizzle I learned that one ought to take a course in order to properly to wield an umbrella. The girl ahead of me collided her umbrella with another woman’s, nearly removed a young man’s head by holding her rain-repeller at his neck’s height, and did not succeed at making it easy (or even possible) to pass her on the sidewalk.

When I wasn’t plotting my course or dodging mad bumbershoot-ists, I had a moment to think about my weeks in Oxford. Tuesdays and every other Friday are my favourite days. Tuesday mornings I have my History tutorial, where I often learn much about how to conceive questions that the text failed to ask. Midday on Tuesdays is made for walking all over Oxford in the spirit of exploration. I have nowhere to be in a hurry, I can literally stop and smell the flowers if I’d like. Evenings may be my very favourite, though, because I go to the C. S. Lewis Society. I don’t even pretend to be pretentious enough to ask a question, I just listen to everyone else’s. I wonder about my own questions, sometimes gaining the courage to ask them of the speaker afterward. Pondering ideas by Lewis or his contemporaries, meeting new people, talking with Jake (who usually goes with me), and setting up chairs for the evening are curiously rewarding events.

Every other Friday is rather different, but they all begin with me writing or editing my paper due at 9:30am. Sometimes I race to the OSAP office, sometimes I saunter; always I leave something essential back at the flat (quite usually my bus pass). My English tutor is patient with my terrible papers, teaches me more about poetry than I knew, connects things I might never have seen, and gives me a deep appreciation for imagination and vision. He has taught me much more than that, though. This tutor, like Dr. Bauman, has taught me that academics are good, important, and worth pursuing, but not at the cost of the individual. I am humbled at the time taken by these men to ensure that I grow as a person, not merely as a student or a writer.

I have made it to the New College cloisters, where I watch streaks of rain dash at the ground while pondering the things learned on my walk. It is a perfect day for reflection, reading, and writing. This is good, because my dabbling at writing has already begun with these thoughts, and must continue in earnest with my History paper that is due tomorrow morning. Farewell from this quiet place on this lovely rainy day!

Ms. Jody Byrkett
Summit Oxford Fellow (Hilary 2011)

Learn more about Summit Oxford here.

This post has earned 7 Comments so far.

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  • March 26, 2011 // 05:48 am //  # 
    Roland's avatar Roland

    A cross-cultural course and “Introduction to
    British manners and customs” class would benefit Americans attending U.K. schools.  I think it’s more logical to walk with the motorcar traffic than against it.  Who wrote: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, but in all things charity”?
    This could apply to customs as well as theology, though not when it concerns crossing the street.  But when in Rome, I try to do as the Romans do, even if at times it’s annoying.

  • March 31, 2011 // 02:35 pm //  # 
    Jody Byrkett's avatar Jody Byrkett

    It is a little frustrating still to walk down the sidewalk and nearly get hit by a bus mirror, but I am learning to pay attention.

    Roland, the quotation you gave is attributed to Philipp Melanchthon… You might enjoy reading more about him.

    Sometime soon I will have to discuss lessons learned whilst talking to those in the kebab stands of Oxford. wink

    ~ Jody

  • April 01, 2011 // 11:14 am //  # 
    Roland's avatar Roland

    Thanks for the responses to my post above.  I look forward to reading more from you all.  and I’ll look up Phillip Melanchthon’s writings.  See my website for more good info.  All the best to you.  Cheers!

  • April 02, 2011 // 04:26 am //  # 
    Jody Byrkett's avatar Jody Byrkett

    Thanks, Roland. When I have a bit more time (meaning, when I’m not about to write a paper on Islam) I will have to look around your website.

  • April 12, 2011 // 07:05 am //  # 
    Roland's avatar Roland

    I just found a good article on Islam by the former Bishop of Rochester at the Heritage Foundation (U.S.) website.  I posted it on my Posterous site. Check it out if you are still researching Islamism.

  • April 12, 2011 // 07:11 am //  # 
    Roland's avatar Roland

    Try this link to my site, if interested. I mistyped my web address on the link to the above comment.  I also have a good article there on “Myths about the Crusades”.  For your information.  Blessings!
    Matt. 6:33

  • April 12, 2011 // 01:45 pm //  # 
    Jody Byrkett's avatar Jody Byrkett

    Thanks so much! Our papers are done, but I’m still interested in learning more about Islam.

    ~ Jody

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