Sunday, January 17, 2016

London. . .and musings on home

My first trip to London was nine years ago. I was captivated by the art galleries, the museums, the history, literary references, musicals. We went to a magical production of Mary Poppins and bought the recording. Every time I listen to it I am reminded of traveling with my family, and especially of London.

It's been just over four years since I was there, yet when I went with a group on Saturday I felt as if I had been there yesterday. I stayed with the tour group for the first half of the day, wandering around aristocratic London, through several parks, and past Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and 10 Downing Street on our way to Trafalgar Square. That's where I split from the group - only 45 minutes were allotted for the National Gallery of Art. There was no way I could see what I wanted to in that time. So I ate my packed lunch of oatcakes and cheese on the steps of the National Gallery overlooking the business of Trafalgar Square, and then walked into the Gallery.

{by Ucello}


{Hendrick Averkamp}

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I have this weird complex when it comes to what "home" means. Home is where my family is, where the fellowship of believers are, wherever I lay my head down at night for more than two nights. "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, / They have to take you in" (shoutout to Robert Frost). Ultimately, my home is in heaven with Jesus, and as long as I am with Jesus anywhere in this world can be home. But while it is amazing that home can be anywhere, it is also really confusing when I try to associate myself with a particular place or group of people. (My answer always varies when people ask me where I'm from.)

As confusing as it is, there are certain things that always make me feel deeply at home, in a way that's hard to describe. One of them is the stars, especially Orion and the Pleiades. I'm not sure why, but I've always loved those constellations, and when I see them I always feel home, somewhat like Lucy when she sees her beloved Narnian stars again in Prince Caspian.

Another is returning to places which I strongly associate with my family. Even though it makes me homesick to be there without my family, I generally feel very comfortable in those places. These are widely cast across Europe and the States, since we've traveled so much.

The other one that is most prominent in my mind right now (and which got me on this tangent in the first place) is art, specifically paintings. When I walked into the National Gallery and wandered its rooms, I found paintings that I had forgotten were there but which I love dearly. They remind me of my childhood, of traipsing through big cities with Rick Steves' backpacks trying to see everything we could, eating packed lunches of hardboiled eggs and cheese or popping into cafes for tea and scones in London or croissants in Paris. Like the stars, these paintings have been constant in my life. Maybe that's what brings a sense of home - a feeling of constancy and continuity in the midst of change.

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I rejoined the group later in the day for choral Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. This was one new thing in the day for me - I'd never been inside the cathedral. It's stunningly beautiful, rightly considered Christopher Wren's magnum opus. The Evensong was breathtaking, a service of worship sung by a boys' choir. It was a fitting ending for a marvelous day.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful post.
    as i was reading the beginning, where you thought you could have been there yesterday, and not 4 years ago, i thought, "that's because 'it' hasn't changed."
    and then, toward the end, you wrote, "Maybe that's what brings a sense of home - a feeling of constancy and continuity in the midst of change."
    i didn't know about the stars. (O:
    keep posting,