Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Day in Oxford

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to return to Oxford and to visit many of C.S. Lewis' favorite "places".  I put places in quotations because one of the great senses I experienced yesterday was how much Lewis was a person of "place".  Lewis inhabited his places to the fullest.  Many remark how "untraveled" Lewis was -- he never left the British Isles with the exception of a trip to the front lines of WWI early in life and a trip to Greece late in life.  With those exceptions he remained home.  He loved his places.  Once he got to Oxford as a student, he never really left.  He almost gave up a professorship at Cambridge out of fear of having to move from his home in Oxford.

Inside of Oxford he was happy to go to the same old places -- Eagle and Child, The White Horse, his home, etc. He was content to make the walk from his college rooms to the Kilns and remain in either place to do his reading and his letter writing.  The acreage around his home was as much as he needed for his time in nature except when he took his walking tours with friends.  He never learned to drive.  He was content with the space he had been given.  He never felt the need to go to the world; he was happy, through his books, for the world to come to him.

As we toured the Kilns yesterday our group remarked at how small his home was compared to the places where we live.  Each room was humble, warm and intimate.  Most bedrooms had room for little more than a single bed and a desk.  Part of that was the times, but what more does one need?  For Lewis-- a place to sit and read and a place to write -- this was as much a "place" as one needed.  Each room, each place, by his full habitation, became a sacred place. 

It led me to wonder -- how well do I inhabit the places of my world?  Am I content to fill out those few places within my daily life?  Or must I always be on the go, skimming just the surface of each place I glance upon?  I fear it is the latter.  I understand that part of it is personality -- some are wanderlusts and others are homebodies, but are we at risk of losing our sense of the sacred by running from pillar to post?

Where are the sacred places of your life?  Where does your soul take rest, either in solitude or with friends?  Where are the familiar and intimate places? 

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