Apologies for the posting delay. I first created this entry after a long day at work last Thursday--only to be utterly disheartened when all traces of it disappeared from the system. Now I attempt to write it again.
As I climb onto my bicycle to trek back and forth from my fulfilling but consuming, work at the church almost every day (and many evenings), it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the magic and privilege of my life right now. When I'm tired after working with kids or helping to organize an event, sometimes the last thing I want to do is put on my tourist hat and get up and explore, especially when free hours are spent working on long-distance Chicago writing and editing projects. But then I remind myself that all of the extra work is done so that I am able to have fun exploring England, and so I get together with friends and we have adventures. Last Saturday I went down to London for a culture day at the Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral (photos coming soon) but on Sunday, February 15, I had the fun of a "wander in the forest."
A large group of us headed to Rufford Abbey Country Park, in Nottinghamshire's own, famous (and sadly depleted) Sherwood Forest. I spent a few minutes exploring the impressive 12th century abbey ruins (find a history of the site here) but most of our time was devoted to taking a walk in the woods.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of walking to do at Rufford that day. There were many others who seemed to have the same idea, although as the winter afternoon wore on, people left and the sky got increasingly sunny, I began to relax more and more in the peace of the place. Since there were about 20 of us who'd come from Trent Vineyard, we opted for the wide, paved walk along a lake. However, the lake turned out to be pretty small, and we were back where we'd started in half an hour. To my surprise, the group of Brits seemed to collectively shrug their shoulders, and in a moment everyone had started off around the lake again.
"We're going around the lake again?" I asked in some surprise, turning the three guys I'd been chatting with. "Wouldn't it be more fun to strike off on some of these side paths into the woods?"
Again came the collective shrugging of shoulders, then Jimmy spoke up.
"You see," he said, "This sort of attitude is precisely why your ancestors decided they needed to cross a big ocean. What they had in front of them wasn't good enough, was it?"
We all laughed, but then I said,
"And your ancestors, obviously, were content to walk about a little lake over and over again. Mine couldn't wait to explore across the ocean. Who, do you think, had more fun?"
There was more laughter and we then started talking about more serious matters--namely, if we were forced to rate our three favorite cakes, what they would be.
After the cake discussion ended, however (it should be noted that British Ben's favorite cake experience meant flying over to New York City for cheesecake on top of the Empire State Building), I tired of the lake and, spying an intriguing path leading into the golden woods, called out, "I'm going to check this out. Anyone want to come with me?"
My friend Sarah was the only taker, and as we headed off, I heard Jimmy say to the others, "And that is the American spirit in action."
Enjoy these photos from my little adventure.