Thank You for the Gift of Time

Dear Friends,

Well, Hello! Tracey and I are back after a long-planned trip to London and are filled to the brim with art, theater, history, reading, and fish and chips! 

We had a wonderful trip, fortunate to have been lent a flat in Richmond, recently made famous as the home of Ted Lasso (why, yes, I did have a pint in his pub, called The Prince’s Head in real life). Samuel Johnson famously wrote, “The man who is tired of London, is tired of life,” and, wow, did I find that to be true. The city unfolds its mysteries in little rabbit warrens of streets, vibrant neighborhoods, numerous green squares and parks filled with large trees and plenty of room for playing or taking a nap (London is officially a forest with 1/5 of its footprint covered in trees), the Thames that defines the geography and culture of the city, and more museums and theaters and churches and markets and bookstores than one could ever visit in a lifetime!

We did our best, however, to soak up what we could in our month there. We gorged ourselves on theater. The stand out for me was Sir Ian McKellen as Falstaff in The Player King, based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV, parts 1 and 2. McKellen was brilliant, and the pathos of the ending—an old man shuffled off as unneeded as Prince Hal becomes King Henry—led me to tears and seems especially poignant now.

We immersed ourselves in history, whether touring Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, or the underground Churchill War Rooms from which Prime Minister Churchill and his government conducted World War II. We visited many art museums and were especially wowed by The Portrait Gallery and a show at Tate Britain: John Singer Sargent and Fashion. We sampled a variety of churches, from the local parish church to cathedrals, from Sunday morning services to Evensong; we felt very much at home and were impressed by the excellent preaching and music.

One of my dreams for the trip was to walk in the steps of some of my favorite authors, especially Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury set, so we wandered Russell Square where she lived and walked while plotting her novels and Mecklenburgh Square where Woolf and a number of other important women writers and thinkers of the period lived (the excellent Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade led me here). We traveled to Monk’s House, Woolf’s retreat in the South Downs, a lovely cottage with a gorgeous garden designed and tended by Virginia and husband Leonard, and then to Sissinghurst estate in Kent, the world-famous garden designed by Woolf’s lover and writer Vita Sackville-West.

I could keep going, but what I really want to say is “thank you.” It is a gift to have the time to immerse oneself deeply in another place and culture, in one’s avocations and interests. It is a gift to have time to rest. It is a gift to know that the place and people I love and care about is being loved and cared for well in my absence. 

And, now, I can hardly wait to see YOU! I know many of you are on your own vacations but during the next few weeks I hope to see and connect with each and every one of you in church and, perhaps, next Wednesday at Hymns in the Courtyard!

Faithfully, Suzanne+