11 April 2016
Oxford: Nothing is Ordinary
Oxford is a city that has so much beauty, and nothing in it is ordinary. I am not sure how one could ever grow accustomed to its towering dreaming spires and the ancient buildings that have inspired my imagination so much. Doors are not ordinary. They are grand, ornate, detailed, carved, painted, and lovely. Stairs are not ordinary. They are creaky, wooden, and always photogenic. Dining halls are not ordinary. They are grand, spacious, with impressive hammer-beam wood ceilings, walls covered in portraits, and stained glass. Bookshops are far from ordinary. They hold treasures such as first edition C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton books. The weather is not ordinary. Sometimes you get four seasons in one day.
Each college and each building in it has its own story. All the buildings drip with architectural details that will capture your eyes and your imagination if you stay and look for a minute. There is usually someone around to tell you about the history, or you can pick up a good book about Oxford in Blackwell's Bookshop. These buildings have not changed in centuries. Nothing much changes in Oxford, other then new shops along Cornmarket and St. Michael's. It all pretty much looks as if we were walking around in C.S. Lewis' time, and in his time it was as if he were walking around in the 1800's. That is part of what is so inspiring. To know you are looking at things and experiencing things that C.S. Lewis (and my other favourite authors) did, and it's all largely unchanged.
Walking to a nearby coffee shop, to dinner, or the grocery store to pick up snacks you walk by history and these beautiful buildings. It is part of the every day, and the every day is out of the ordinary in the best ways. For me, walking around consists of constant interior sighs of delight. Gazing at the Bodleian Library as I walk by to go somewhere else, I feel the presence of history and imagine previous Oxford dons in their gowns carrying their books for study, heading to a tutorial. Students tucked away behind the windows of the Bodleian Library with stacks of books on the table in front of them. On breaks, they come out for a walk to the coffee shop for some caffeine to sustain them for another few hours of study.
Everything I do in Oxford is special. Having tea or coffee is a favourite activity because it allows me to slow down to sit and reflect on the past hours and all that I had seen and learned. Every hour is packed with sights and delights that leave me with so much to ponder and muse about for several weeks.