Sunday, December 14, 2008

All the World's a Play

My third time to London began with a British Studies field trip on November 7th, with requirements to first stop by St. Paul's Cathedral and then to spend some time at the National Art Gallery. However, the first part of the day left me with an interesting question: is a cathedral still a cathedral if it is more dedicated to remembering people than to remembering Christ?

St. Paul's Cathedral was, without a doubt, the least religious one I have ever set foot in, though the word 'religious' is not quite right. I think the words 'Christ glorifying' might get the point across better. This cathedral was all about celebrating the military exploits of Britain, with a section behind the altarpiece devoted to Americans that died, if I remember correctly, in World War II. I found more references to Admiral Nelson than I did to Christ. It was a glorious cathedral, and I greatly enjoyed going up to the balcony surrounding the outside of the dome and getting a magnificent view of London, but it was difficult to truly find G-d there.

From there, I met up with some friends, and we made a stop at Twinings on our way to Trafalgar Square. I could not resist, I just had to get some tea and a couple gifts.

Now for one of the most amazing highlights of my time over here, which still strikes me as quite ludicrously funny. We got to Trafalgar Square, we being Annie, Jon, Bethany, Katie, Leil, and I, and started eating lunch. After a few moments, Katie decided to see if one of the pigeons would take a bite out of her apple while Katie held it in her mouth. I still chuckle when I remember seeing her bent over on the steps in front of the National Art Gallery trying to entice a pigeon to bite a piece out of the apple in her mouth.

Of course, then we started making it even better. We all had raisin packets in our sack lunches. Using this resource, many of us became pigeon whisperers—we started using raisins in our hands to get pigeons to land in them or on our arms. We had such a blast! I had two or three on my right arm at one point in time... of course, this was a motif of the day—my friend Ana had actually caught one before we went into St. Paul's Cathedral.

Then, once we finished having our fun, we found a sign just a few yards behind us.... One that said there is a possible 500 pound fine for feeding pigeons at Trafalgar Square.... Lucky that there weren't any police around, eh?

After that, we finally made it to the National Art Gallery, and they have quite a few phenomenal paintings, but it was my second trip, so I focused on the pictures I wanted to see more than trying to cover everything, which for me means focusing on paintings from around the impressionist period. I enjoyed myself. From there, it was off to see War Horse, which was an absolutely fantastic play. They puppetry of the horses was astounding it was just a wonderful story.

The next day, Laura and I remained because we had made plans to see Les Miserables. So, we had a good, lazy sort of day. We walked along the Thames River, passing by the Globe, and eventually stopped at the London Eye. When we got on, it was pretty cloudy, but by the time we had made it to the top, the sun was shining bright and the rain had already made its escape. It was a splendid day.

Les Miserables was simply breath-taking. The actor who played Jean Valjean had a magnificent tenor—very clear and distinct. I also greatly appreciated the differences between the play, novel, and movie that I've seen. I like how Eponine is portrayed in the play. A lot. Overall, it was just marvelous, simply marvelous.

The next morning, all we did was return to Grantham since I had a volleyball game that afternoon.

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Asking for time to decipher the signs...

What is there to know? I'm just another guy trying to figure out what it means to truly love, to truly live, to embrace life to the fullest. If I ever get some answers, I'll let you know. "So live on, / Breathing in every sigh / Hurt and joy / Truly living life to its fullness / Leaving no dream unturned / Or unfulfilled / Live on / Life awaits" -excerpt from "Nostalgia" by me.