|The ancient gate once in the city wall surrounding Southampton.|
|The party city of Brighton.|
|Our friend Isaac up in the Shard in London.|
|Tower Bridge in the background ... near where we had lunch.|
|"The Shard" in London... tallest building in Europe.|
|The ancient picturesque village of Biddenden.|
As I noted last post I get very anguished about the troubled world we live in. I still get anguished about the innocent children being killed in Gaza. It seems that Israel is trying to make this offensive as murderous as they can. I still feel for people in Libya, Syria, Sudan, Iraq etc. I cannot imagine how it would feel to live in the midst of ongoing war and unrest. (What a silly word - people are being blown apart and it is called "Unrest"... "unrest" is my sleepless night... what is happening is tragedy! ) However I need to think positively.
I hear stories of Jewish people having the courage to protest against what their government is doing. I heard a story the other day of a Moslem man in Iraq, defending the rights of Christians to worship and losing his life for it. I hear of people breaking down walls of conflict reaching out to the needy on the other side. There are relief workers passionate about offering care in the face of danger and hardships. In the midst of the sadness there is human love and compassion for others... Love will win. Just down the road where we are in Glasgow there are representatives of a multitude of nations, with different cultures, religions and resources playing sport together in a great spirit of friendship. This is of course the Commonwealth games. So in the midst of darkness there is light. In the midst of hate there is love, truly the most powerful force in the universe.
We went down to the South of England and l thought I'd list off the people we valued.
- In Southampton an Indian local just passing saw us looking at a map and offered to help... in Brighton a schoolboy and later a student did the same thing. In London a young man gave us great directions to our lodgings.
- We have a friend in London, Isaac, and he gave us the whole weekend of his time to guide us around places of interest, which he insisted on paying for. He took us to Wimbledon, a restaurant meal, the Shard, Madame Tussaud and Hever Castle.
- Isaac took us for an evening meal at his friends' place who opened their hearts and home to us. We enjoyed a relaxed evening chatting.
- We caught the train to Headcorn and were on the bus asking questions of the impatient bus driver about how to get to Biddenden. An elderly chinese lady nearby came up and said, "If you wait here in a few minutes the hospital bus will come and you can ride that for free." It was amazing how cooperative the bus driver became then. The lady just winked at us.
- We visited the village of Biddenden where my wife's maternal ancestors came from. The lady in the Church, the proprietor of the guest house, the inn keeper all were so warm, friendly and helpful to us. A man rang up whose mother had the same surname as my wife's great grandmother. The woman from the Church had got hold of him. He and his wife met us conducted us around places of family interest, then took us to see a castle, then took us home for afternoon tea. It was all so relaxing and friendly, as if we had known them for years.
On the Monday we went to Biddenden, I had a sore throat. By the time we got back to Edinburgh (bus, train, two tube rides, train, bus and walk) I had a full fledged cold/ flu thing going. (I'll spare you the symptoms) It really knocked me and while I kept going a little bit, I eventually realised I had to stop and rest. I used to be able to shake off a cold easily, but this one has left me weak. I am virtually over it now, but it is a bugger getting old, I can't hack the pace like I used to..
On our flights from New Zealand the seats were so close together that I had to sit with knees splayed. Since then my "good knee" has been playing up and "goes out" every now and then causing untold pain. It hinders my walking and of course walking is what we are doing a lot of. I repeat ... it is a bugger getting old. When I retire I want to do a lot of tramping... will this prevent that?
During my cold I settled into two "theological" books we had purchased in Edinburgh, one by Marcus Borg and one by John Spong. I enjoyed both but they disturb me and set my mind thinking. Next post I'll tell you about them. Just over four more weeks in the UK. It was strange coming back to Edinburgh and it feeling like we were coming home. We are enjoying worshipping at St Augustine United Church and feel at home there. ... but I long for New Zealand quarter acre house sections, single story dwellings, gardens, bush and emptiness. I long for useful projects to do, responsibilities to pick up again and routine.