On Monday morning, July 24th, Cindy and I arose early. She left the Hotel Brouwer at 5:55 a.m. for the Amsterdam International Airport for her flight back to the U.S. I remained behind for a few more minutes before an arduous and complicated journey to Oxford, England. By the time I arrived in Oxford at around 2:30 p.m. (3:30 Holland time), I had walked a while, taken three trains, one subway, one bus, and one taxi.
I walked the half-mile to Amsterdam Central Station and took the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Brussels. There I changed to a Eurostar train from Brussels to the St. Pancras Train Station in London. The first two train rides took about 4 1/2 hours. I then sought to take a train to Oxford (my destination) and was told I would have to go to Paddington Station for this. So I found my way to the Underground (subway) and rode for several stops to Paddington station, expecting to take the train to Oxford. This would be way to easy. It was a bad omen when I saw stations listed for all of the other cities, but by Oxford were the words, “Make Inquiry.” It seems the tracks are under repair from Paddingon to Oxford, so instead I would have to take a 45 minute train ride to Didcot Parkway, which I did. From there I took a bus to the Oxford Central Bus Station. And, at last, from there I took a taxi to St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Whew!
Upon my arrival, I checked in to my room at St. Catherine’s, an un-airconditioned dorm room, and checked into the C. S. Lewis Summer Institute (aka, Oxbridge 2017). It felt great to be in Great Britain again. Oxford is marvelous with all of it’s spires and architecture. I met up with my comrades from All Saints Church in Lakeland, Florida and went to dinner with them at the Eagle and Child, the hangout of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the rest of the inklings. Having dinner with my friends in a pub frequented by these great writers was a real treat, and the fish and chips were pretty good, also!
From there we walked to the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, where Christians have ben meeting since at least 1252. It is the place where bishops Ridley and Latimer, along with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer were put on trial and then burned at the stake in 1555. It is also the location of the delivery of one of C. S. Lewis’ most powerful sermons, The Weight of Glory. We were there for the Evening Prayer service which kicked off our sessions. Although the pews were trying, the church was magnificent, the sermon was good, and the choir and organ were absolutely heavenly! What a great start to my time in England!