Wednesday, 26 September 2012

London! Westminster Abbey and Les Mis

Dearest Nathan,

Yes, what an adventure we're having! I've never done London this way, all in a whirlwind. But Trudy wants to see as much as possible, and who can blame her? So each day is packed full and exhausting, but that has it's own thrill. And we keep meeting wonderful people. Yesterday it was the beefeater at the Tower, and today it was a volunteer at Wesminster Abbey.

So this morning at breakfast we met a missionary from Thailand. He said his children were going to university next year, so they decided to have one last big family vacation, and they're literally circling the world on some very cheap tickets. He said I must just be touring England after graduating university, "I'm putting you just at graduation or a little after, right?"  I said thank you so much, but no. I'm married, have two kids and am almost 40! But I assured him I took it as a wonderful compliment!

We spent the morning moving to Highbury Centre, and it is delightful, just like I remembered.

Highbury Centre

We left Highbury Centre at about 1:00, had a sandwich in the park, and then on to Westminster Abbey. I've never actually been in, since it's kind of expensive (£16), but in we went today. Wow. It's really just a who's who of British history, with all the people buried there. We saw the tombs of Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Mary Tudor, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Edward VI, and so many others.  Someone had left a flowering thistle on Queen Mary's tomb.  But my favorite find, which was completely unexpected and not even included in the little audio tour we were taking, was the tomb of Anne Neville, who was married to Richard III. I've always liked her -- she died when she was only 29, just a few months before Richard III died in battle and just a few months after her one and only child died at age 9. So sad. And there she was! We just looked over, and there was a little plaque on the wall beside her tomb. So amazing.

 We weren't supposed to take pictures inside the Abbey, but Trudy sneaked this lovely one from the cloisters, looking out into a gorgeous courtyard.

We lined up for evensong on Charles Darwin's tomb (funny, huh?), and my legs were killing me! I was just about to sit on the floor when a gentleman who turned out to be a volunteer offered me his seat -- so kind. Trudy sat in the chair beside me, and there were no other chairs anywhere around. So we spent the next 20 minutes or so talking to him about the Abbey. He was full of information and again seemed delighted to find people who were just as interested in it all as he is. In the midst of all this I looked up and noticed this old, bent lady standing right beside me, so of course I said, "Would you like to sit down?" She answered, briefly, "Yes" and took my seat. The minute I stood up, the kind gentleman whispered, "You shouldn't have done that!" I asked why not, and he said, "Every evening it's the same. She pushes her way through the crowd to these two seats and then stands over the person sitting there until they offer it to her." I kind of laughed but thought maybe he was exaggerating. In about 5 more minutes they opened the gate to allow us to go in to evensong. It was a fairly small gate, so I was waiting to go in when I felt this fist pushing on my back. I turn around and there's the little old lady, pushing on me with all her might and saying, "Coming through! Coming through!" After what the gentleman had told me about her, I decided to stand my ground, so I didn't move an inch, and she just pushed harder. Even as I walked through the gate she just kept pushing on me until we cleared it and she could scuttle around me.

So for evensong we sat in the choir at Westminster Abbey! I'll have to show you a picture, but we sat where all the lords and ladies sat during William and Kate's wedding. Incredible. And evensong was so beautiful. The Anglican liturgy with a boys' choir. The priest who did the Old and New Testament readings was amazing -- I've honestly never heard anyone read the Bible so well. The O.T. reading was from Numbers 27 about choosing Joshua for leadership, and the N.T. reading was from I Corinthians, about the division caused by some choosing Paul and others Apollos, so clearly the theme was Christian leadership. It was lovely.

Then, we took the tube to Picadilly Circus to see Les Mis. We found the theater, got our tickets, had a quick supper of bread and cheese from Sainsbury's, and then saw the show. It was so stirring -- the music was amazing and the themes of the story really beautiful and true. Do you know the story? The theme of law and grace ran throughout, with the truth so clearly portrayed that the law, even in all it's nobility and honor, really only kills in the end, and grace redeems and redeems and redeems. It made me cry it was so beautiful.

 London's theatre district.

 The view from our seats.

 The stage revolved, which I thought was a great technique.

Enjoying every moment!

You and I are going to London one of these days, and all the better if it's for a month. What a city. And what a husband I have!

The bright lights of London!

Hug and kiss the babies for me.


1 comment:

MOM said...

Wonderful post! I really felt like I was along for the ride. Yes, London is great! I'm sure you'll do it many more times with husband & kids. Thanks for the vacation!