Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oxford,T.S. Eliot, and Wood Ducks

Well, this is new, this blogging often thing! But I suppose I brought this on myself. Yesterday I did some hardcore reminiscing of Oxford, and nothing quite sparks the need to write in me like reminiscing. So, I wrote something that I've been meaning to write for a long time, based on an experience I had mid-way through term on my way to the EFL...or perhaps it was Wycliffe for lecture and tea on Wednesday. It's all right if it sounds too melodramatic or like it's trying to be one of the "deep, introspective" things. I'll fully admit that I aspire to be one of those deep, introspective people, but suspect I might never become one because farts make me laugh. So if this piece sounds fake, I apologize, I didn't mean it to be. I just might have been distracted by some passing of gas or something.

The Wood Duck

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance
–T.S. Eliot  "Four Quartets, Burnt Norton"

It was chilly. Not the type that makes you shiver as you walk, but the type that takes up residence in the tip of your nose as soon as you step out the door, to which the nose protests by running until it can breathe in warmer air. It’s a healthy sort of chill, one that gently reminds you that you are in fact alive. 

It was this type of reminder that caused me to stop on the path, on the bridge over that small daughter of the Thames tributary and realize that almost five weeks had passed. It’s a funny thing about time; it never can be measured by its duration, how long it feels—it almost always ends up being counted in other ways. In times opening a bright red door, in times pouring boiling water into a teacup, in words written, in miles traveled, in friends made.

The trouble is that in the middle of it, you forget to count these things—until a chill tweaks your nose, and suddenly you realize how much has happened, and is happening. The more experiences you have, the faster times feels. The world is turning.

So on that chilly day, I stopped on the bridge, and felt a bit paralyzed. Michaelmas term would be over before I realized it. Going backwards was impossible, but moving forward promised more of the same, being so caught up in the experience that I never stopped to look at it. 

So instead I watched the ducks. A gathering of mallards floated calmly in the water around bridge. And thena wood duck. He was the only one, his long-feathered head standing out among his companions. I had seen him before, other times that I had passed this bridge. But today I noticed him, and remembered that he had been there; every time I passed by and looked beside the bridge, that one solitary wood duck in a crowd of mallard brethren was there.

And suddenly the world stopped spinning for one moment: anchored to a constant wood duck—something living that didn’t seem to change, only returned and returned again to the waters by the bridge.

Of course, he will change. If I return to Oxford, there probably won’t be a wood duck by that bridge. Who knows, the bridge might even be gone. But he reminded me to take time to stop and watch, and anchor myself in something constant; he reminded me of God—

The still point of the turning world.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"But you've got a Northern Accent!” “Lots of planets have a north.”

I am nearly finished watching Doctor Who season 1 of the 2005 series, and so far I'm finding it most excellent. I'm not sure what my favorite episode so far is...I like the introduction of the Captain Jack, but that episode was also creepy as all get outzombie-like people in gas masks calling for their mothers? Eerie, to say the least.
Any way, that is all I will say for now. I will leave you with a picture of a t-shirt that was up for vote on and which I do wish would be made, because I would probably buy it:
TARDIS and damask. What a great combination.

Next TopicBooks I Am Reading/Have Recently Read:

The Hunger Games book one: I finished it in a day. It was very well done, I thought, and the concept behind the book was a fascinating was sort of Lord of the Flies mixed with scifi stuff mixed with reality T.V. After finishing it, I had thoughts similar to the ones I had after reading Brave New World, mostly that "Wow...I wouldn't be surprised if our world actually does these things someday."  So, I think I'll finish the series, if I can avoid spoilers. For these fantasy novels, the element of surprise is one of their best assets, so I will try to  preserve that for as long as I can. But, as with Doctor Who, most people have already encountered these, so it may be a challenge to hide from the " OH MAN HUNGER GAMES I LOVED THAT TIME WHEN SO AND SO DID SUCH AND SUCH...OH WAIT THAT WAS A MAJOR PLOT TWIST, WHOOPSY!"

The second book I'm reading is called Redeeming Laughter by Peter Berger. I have only read the preface and I can already recommend it. This guy is a great writer, and is approaching his topic with a great (and I would say necessary) combination of silliness and seriousness. It's an academic work, but it's also about the comic, so he's not ashamed to say that there are many jokes in the book. I'm really looking forward to reading an example of approaching humor from an academic standpoint while "saving the joke" so to speak. It will be most helpful for my honors project on humor this fall.

The third book I am reading is Hebrewsand here is my thought for today, from chapter three. I thought it was pretty neat that one of the ways the author suggests to keep from getting a hard heart is to "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." So, basically, in order to keep yourself open to spiritual growth, you have to be encouraging others toward it as well. Just one more cool example of the communal nature of following Christ.

I will end, with this photo: 

It isn't true, I actually love sandcastles. But I love this baby's face, so he's staying.

The end.