December 6, 2005

9: Meaning

“Wow. This looks amazing. You should look at this.” My roommate Sandy and I were in church, killing time in the foyer waiting for Bev to finish at the welcome table, which seemed to have mysteriously swallowed her, because she was nowhere to be seen. Sandy was looking at a brochure for summer school in Oxford at Wycliffe Hall. The week-long course offered classes on the historical Jesus, Martin Luther, the Sermon on the Mount, and the apologetics of C.S. Lewis. Tours in the afternoon, punting, pubbing, and parks. I picked up a brochure with the realization that it would probably require something of me.

When I studied it later, in my home office, I felt like life was giving me a challenge I had to accept. I was trying to sort out the possibilities of life, working and dreaming to try to ensure that sans husband and children, my life would still somehow be significant. Oxford, grad school, studying theology – these were things I dreamt about as an avenue to meaning, an answer to the unexpected aloneness of my journey. I felt a need to study the historical and cultural setting of the New Testament, to find the basis for understanding the so many important things that get lost in the evangelical church today as we focus on the specific meaning of the Greek words, often with a complete lack of understanding of the culture they were written to. Perhaps this was God’s intention in keeping me single. Perhaps this was my meaning. I had always wanted to live overseas, and Oxford seemed romantic and real from an educational standpoint, real in a way my evangelical-college work wasn’t.

So when I read the brochure I was willed out the door with a determination to investigate this possible source of meaning for my life. Nothing life-changing, but a small step. And I thought I could take a week or ten days after the course in Oxford to follow Austen’s life through the English countryside.

That “week or ten days” quickly became two, and then three weeks, so that by the time I got on the British Airways flight for London in the beginning of July, I was leaving on a month-long journey – in search of adventure, love, and Jane Austen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From one single, thirty-something, Jane Austen/England fan to another--I am enjoying reading about your journey!


12/06/2005 01:07:00 PM  

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