There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Of Tortoises and Colleges

Change in Oxford moves at a snail's pace or slower, if that's possible.  To give you some idea, New College is still called New College, even though it was founded in 1379.  I once read a short story by one of the Turl Street Writers, Linora Lawrence, called The Tortoises of Turl Street.  The tortoises run shops on Turl Street, live in Balliol College, and end up tunneling under Broad Street to get about between colleges.  Slowly, ever so slowly, at a tortoise's pace of course, they move through the underpinnings of the University, slow to react, slow to change, plodding on as tortoises do.

Lincoln College Quad

Because change in Oxford is measured over centuries, rather than decades, there are habits, traditions, and rules that people follow and cling to, while having no clue why.  There's an unyielding rule that runs through every college except Hertford, that no one is allowed to walk on the grass in college quads except *fellows......and the Queen.  Tourists step off the paths in the college quads at their peril, because college porters will let no infraction of this rule go unnoticed.  There are myths and stories surrounding this rule, but no one really knows the reason why and I doubt this rule will ever change.  One day it will only be fellows and King George who can walk on the college lawns.

One of our frequent guests, a student at New College in the 1940's, told us a story that I think perfectly illustrates the tortoise-like pace of change in Oxford.  A group of fellows were discussing at length the plan to install baths/showers in the student quarters.  One of the more senior fellows, who had been snoozing with a pipe in the corner and who no one thought was paying any attention, suddenly said "A bath?!?  A bath for the students???  Why they're only here eight weeks!!"

After living in Oxford for awhile now, I understand the plodding tortoise pace at which the colleges function, and it didn't surprise me at all when I came across the following New College rules:
New College Lane

*Members of the college are to speak Latin at all times.
*Members of the college are not to keep a dog, ferret, hawk, or any other bird of prey.
*Members of the college are to attend mass every day clad in gown and cowl and fur-lined hood, and reciting Ave Maria 50 times on bended knee.

*Members of the college are not to make comparison between men of the south, the north, and of Scotland. 
*After dinner graduates and fellows may return to work, but undergraduates are to go straight to bed.
*Members of the college who break these rules may be denied food.

...........and luckily, even though these rules are still on the books they aren't enforced, or every student at New College would be gaunt, thin, and pale having been 'denied food' for weeks.  And, as far as I know thank goodness, there have been no recent skirmishes between the 'men of the south, the north, and of Scotland'.

*A fellow is an incorporated member of the University, including professors, researchers, and visiting professors.

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