Our journey continues…and we can’t believe that we are almost 2/3 of the way along! Since our last posting, we have traveled from St. Andrews to Edinburgh to Lindisfarne (The Holy Island), and then to the Cotswolds where we settled into Stow-on-the-Wold for our final 12 days in the UK. We landed back in the US on June 30 and on July 2, we flew to Kalispell, Montana to visit Jan and Eugene Peterson. We returned here to West Hartford, Connecticut (to stay with Jen’s folks) on July 5. We leave here tomorrow, July 7, up to the coast of Maine to settle in for the final 5 weeks of our sabbatical journey.
It has been a remarkable experience every step of the way. As you will see from the pics below, in these recent weeks the landscape has become more pastoral. The rolling hills, lush meadows and gardens, roadside hedgerows, postcard villages, welcoming pubs, soaring cathedrals, the hallowed halls and streets of Oxford, and enchanting walks through the woods…all have combined to draw us into a quality of being—dwelling in the moment and with each other.
So all is well with us. Exceedingly well. From what I hear—all is well there. Our gratitude overflows.
Friends have been an important part of the last few weeks. I spent a morning with Calum McLeod—until a few years ago he was one of the pastors at 4th Presbyterian in Chicago. He now serves at the Minister of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. In Ely, England (just outside Cambridge), we visited Francis Spufford and his wife, Jessica Martin. Jessica serves on the pastoral staff of Ely Cathedral. Some of you may recall that Francis visited GUC a few years back. At that time, he had just published his evocative book, “Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.” His first novel, “Golden Hill,” has just been released in the USA--accompanied by a very favorable review in the New York Times on June 27.
During our stay in Montana, I visited with Albert Borgmann, a philosopher who teaches at the University of Montana in Missoula. Those of you who read my Lenten Blog this past Spring have a sense for how influential he has been to my thinking about what it means to live well in a technological age. For the entirety of our stay in Montana, our good friends, Jan & Eugene Peterson, hosted us at their Montana home overlooking the magnificent Flathead Lake and Continental Divide. Time with them is always sabbath time.
All these encounters were sacred reminders of how much friendship matters to our lives...through friendship we realize what in life matters. Which is what keeps you strongly in our hearts and minds as we continue to make our way homeward.
Today we say farewell to Jennifer's parents--Neal (88)and Warene (93) Testerman. They are remarkable people and bear witness to a love that dignifies as it endures. Our love for each other was kindled in their household. So much began for us here...and endures.
Let me leave you with a phrase from a book I just finished reading by the theologian Michael J. Buckley, “Denying and Disclosing God.” Here is the phrase that has been turning over my heart: “God is a presence, not a conclusion.”