Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


The nourishment of Thursdays

There is an art to nourishment of the soul. A rhythm that must be struck if one is to keep one's spirit fully alive to the music that life, when artfully lived, may be. The music wells up amidst moments carefully claimed, moments wrestled free of distraction from all that must be done and bought and given. Wonder, hush, those signposts of a heart welling up with the holy, come rarely amidst the frenzy. But in a new space of life where one is bewildered by the upending of old daily habits, when new ones must be formed amidst the rush to this lesson or that imperative class (with 30 minutes of walking tacked on to start and end), nourishment seems more about a meal on time than a moment of transcendence. That's why I've claimed Thursdays as my own. Papers may be due and emails written and bills paid the other days. Thursday, here, is the space of time in which I recollect my soul. I wander the city. Or walk by the river. I visit the farm stand at the market, and stop for tea and cake on my way back. I read what strikes my fancy, write when I want, and usually, I end with a visit to evensong.

Here, a few tastes from my day:

I sit in my slim, English bed with its oh-so European duvet (this took some getting used-to), hold a hot cup of tea and stare out at the river.

God was kind to me. In a way I can barely express, I hunger for sky, trees, and the long, stilled green of fields. My flat sits right behind the railway in one of the busiest parts of Oxford. But it also sits on a river path set. Daily, I rejoice.

Coat donned, and satchel slung, I head for the streets. First stop, the Taylorian Library. I need a book of old Irish legends. (And this is study.)

Lunch next. At the far end of Oxford's covered market there is a crepe stand. They are beginning to expect me. Crisped, hot crepe with cheese on a windy day, and all on a student's budget? Yes please.

I take it down the road for a picnic in Christ Church meadows. Then, off to the farm stand to shop for dinner.

This will do. And while I'm at it, I think I'll get a few bunches of these:

Daffodils from Devon. This reminds me. I'm going to be in England when spring rolls round. Glory be.

And now for tea. It being Thursday, I'll have it out. With an apple almond crumble while I'm at it. My moment of absolute civility thus claimed, I journal. And dream. I have many dreams of late.

By the time I finish, night has sent his runners through the street and the sun is slipping away. I'm off home. But not before an amble along the river. City life, I love. But countryside, the tang of wind, the sweetness of water, the loll of green hills... they sate me in a way no other thing can. And God comes so near in the twilight.

When I am back in my little room with the dark fresh fallen out my window I revel again in the ease that fills me, blood and bone and soul. Small gifts, these. To some, they may even seem frivolous. But I am convinced, no, more like convicted, that to claim a few still spaces in which beauty is found and silence kept, is to open the door to God. The discipline, yes, I think you can call it that, of beauty, is an antidote to distraction. It battles the frenzy of our modern self-importance that keeps God, and the humility he desires in us, away.

All I know is that at end of this day, a door has been opened inside me, or maybe a window thrown wide to the sky of God's life. Grace seeps in like the fresh, clean air it always is and all my darkness is swept away.

Sarah Clarkson29 Comments