. . . You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord . . . -Leviticus 19:18
We are on the train from Glasgow to Oban (Scotland), having just finished the party of a lifetime which was the wedding of Sarah Dunn and Nate Syer. More on that later, as I’m trying to catch up on posts in the order of our trip. Miss R and I said goodbye to Kathy today. She is at the Glasgow airport awaiting her flight home (via Reykjavik but this time for only 90 minutes or so). It’s strange to be without her after traveling as a threesome for two weeks, but she will go back to work and I know our pets will be happy to see her.
The second leg of our trip, after Iceland, was London. We stayed in a flat in Greenwich, with which we fell in love as a vibrant, clean, navigable, fascinating neighborhood. It was a bit outside of city center but easily accessible by DLR and overground trains as well as water taxi up the Thames (my favorite of the choices). London is the only of our stops this trip which Kathy and I have visited before (I turned 30 there a hundred years ago), but we loved it and wanted to return, and Miss R has been “dying” to go (as only an 11 year old can).
Highlights of the trip:
1. London itself especially through Miss R’s eyes. We toured the West End and took in a show, rode the London Eye, tried several pubs (Miss R now likes fish & chips and I’ve become a fan of draught cider), rode several roundabouts, shopped at the Doc Marten store, toured the Tower of London (where Miss R lost a tooth), explored lots of local churches (most of which are dirty from the city and need some TLC), and took a never-ending bus tour of the city that brought us by Paddington Station, the Sherlock Holmes statue, and Lambath Palace. Kathy and I tried new things while Miss R saw the city through the eyes of an excited and marveling 11 year old.
2. The Harry Potter Movie studio tour. Wow! For fans of HP, this is a Mecca of sorts, and I can see why. Universal Orlando is the recreation of the HP world and it’s fun, but this tour was the real thing: real sets, real costumes, real experiences of what it was like to create this magical world where good and evil collide and good wins. I loved it, maybe even more than Miss R did, if that’s possible. Plus: butter beer ice cream.
3. Worshipping at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Last trip we worshipped at Westminster Abbey and it was fine, but we decided to try something different. I’m so glad we did. St. Paul’s is beautiful, the music was stunning, there was a woman presider, and the sermon wasn’t even too bad. It was distracting to be surrounded by tourists who came to worship just to see the building and left early, but I imagine some of them were fed in some ways by being there and leave it at that. One never knows how God works in and through others.
Here’s what I thought about (quite a bit) during this leg of the trip: why do we think so negatively about that which is different? It came up specifically when Londoners made comments about driving on the left side of the road, which they often referred to as the “wrong side” when talking with us. I realized they call it the wrong side sarcastically because that’s what Americans call it. I had already taken to calling it the left side, in preparation for our upcoming trip to Scotland during which I would have to drive on said side (to which I looked with great fear and trepidation). But for most Americans, the left side is different and so the left side is wrong. Especially in these hate-filled days of left and right (and blue and red), I think it would serve us well to stop using the word “wrong” when really we mean “different.” Different is not always wrong. Different is how we learn, different is what stretches us and helps us grow, different is who we are. And I don’t want to be one of those Americans the rest of the world assumes is judgmental of difference. Because different is what God calls us to be. And different is holy.