Friday, December 19, 2008

from bristol to brighton

dear clea, my high school best friend, came to pick me up at oxford and take me to her home in a lovely little village outside bristol.

in her dear sentimental way she showed me a little gift that i had given her when we were young gals --"A friend is someone who likes you."

we had such fun catching up and the next morning was a perfect sunny day for a walk through the cotswolds. could NOT have been a more perfect outing.

just what i longed for-- a brisk and refreshing hike out in the fresh air and stunning scenery.

little stimpy accompanied us and supplied a continously fresh stream of delightful antics.

we walked up to the Tyndale Monument built in memory of William Tyndale who was burned at the stake in 1536 for the heresy of translating the Bible into English.

Next stop on my itinerary was a visit to my other dear dear friends sham, joa, arian and layla in brighton.

then off to china where i am sitting right now in beijing airport waiting for my plane to lanzhou.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Baha'i tourism--sightseeing at Oxford

I am here at the University of Oxford to present a paper at a conference on "Poverty, Education and Health in Rural China."

I took some time to go for a little sight seeing stroll today. From St. Anne's College I walked down Observatory Road admiring the colorfully painted homes and got some breakfast/lunch (woke up so late due to jet lag) at a little cafe on Walton St.

Funny how there was such a familiarity in the flavors of things--coming to England is also like a cultural homecoming in some sense--child of British colonial Africa that I am. The baked beans tasted how baked beans ought to taste in my mind--not sickly sweet like American baked beans. Even the tea and the jam on toast tasted "right" :-)

After lunch I strolled down towards Broad St where Balliol college is located.

Balliol college is where Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith studied the philosophy of politics from 1920. I spent some time strolling the courtyards.

I love the little faces that seem to be everywhere in the architecture.

Then I spent some time in the chapel.

I was struck by the bronze eagle lectern which holds a copy of the Bible. The eagle was apparently given for the chapel in 1630 by one of the fellows who studied at Balliol. It certainly made me think of Shoghi Effendi who so loved the symbol of the eagle. Sculptures of eagles can be found throughout the Baha'i gardens at the Holy Places in Israel and

also atop Shoghi Effendi's gravesite in London [image borrowed from Barney Leith's blog]. Surely the similarity between these two sculptures of an eagle atop a globe is not coincidental??

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

continuing to give thanks...

"O Thou handmaid of God! In this day, to thank God for his bounties consisteth in possessing a radiant heart, and a soul open to the promptings of the spirit. This is the essence of thanksgiving."


I just love these simple and lovely directions for living a life of thankfulness. The inherent possibility and potential for new adventures to be had if one is open to the promptings of the spirit is intriguing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Pomegranates year of waiting is over and the future is brimming with new possibilities. i have been eating lots of pomegranates lately. they are so delicious. can't get enough of them. there is much symbolism connected to pomegranates in various cultures around the world. In various traditions they symbolize..

the fullness of suffering
the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom
the good things that God creates
abundance and good luck
fertility and marriage

how wonderful that i am surrounded by pomegranates like never before in my life. surely a portent of good things to come