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.
~Rumi


May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Freshers Week

The bicycle population has doubled in
the past three days and Trinity College
gates are wide open as the students start
unloading and the parents begin their goodbyes.

Every year at this time Oxford, or at least the city centre, seems to lift off the ground a few feet.  This is the start of Michaelmas Term and it's the week all the fresh-faced first year students arrive in full force.  The excitement in the air is palpable and it's very contagious--it's hard not to feel exuberant and full of hope when you're surrounded by thousands of eighteen year olds, their life stretching out ahead of them.  It's all very heady stuff and it's the stuff of Fresher's Week in Oxford.

Cars line up to deposit students as they begin their studies at Trinity.

A lone policeman directing cars and bicycles on Broad Street,
as thousands of new students converge on the city centre.
The flip side of all this excitement are all the parents of this mass of teen-aged exuberance. They have more of a deer-in-the-headlights look about them and even though it's the rarefied air of Oxford, it's the same scene and same emotions being repeated at colleges and universities throughout Britain and North America.  The dutiful parents, after getting their kids through their A Levels, are now doing lots of last minute shopping, scurrying down the street with bags of duvets, kettles, pillows, and laundry baskets, all with the thought at the back of their mind of that moment they'll say goodbye and drive away.

Cars, parents, and freshers line Holywell Street today, in front of New College.

It's such a tender moment, watching this every year, and I just want to go hug each and every parent and tell them it will get better and the separation does get easier to bear.  But they're British and I'm American and one just doesn't do such things here.  So I silently say a little prayer for them all.  For the parents who will do the same thing in reverse in December, and for the students, and I wonder which of them will be the next Hugh Grant or Kate Beckinsale (New College grads), David Cameron or Boris Johnson (Brasenose and Balliol), Tim Berners-Lee (Queen's College and the inventor of the world wide web), T.S. Eliot ( poet and Merton College), Stephen Hawking (University College), or Rachel Maddow from MSNBC (Lincoln College).  All that brain power within a couple of square miles and you can see why Oxford feels airborne this morning.

Future Hugh Grants and Kate Beckinsales
arriving for their first year at New College.


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