Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Port Meadow

Written by Erin in 2003

When I was living in Oxford, England, my flat was situated on a little street called Walton Well Road. If I went out the door and turned right, Walton Well Road would run into Walton Street, where I would walk past the wedding dress shop (with a window displaying a new dream dress every three or four days), Jude the Obscure Pub, the post office with the friendly mustached postmaster, and the Oxford University Press. I used to turn right on Walton Well Road nearly every day to go downtown.

One of my favorite things to do, however, was to head down my front steps in my sneakers or hiking boots and direct my steps leftward. It was then--after passing my neighboring flats and crossing a bridge over the railroad tracks--that I would find in Port Meadow a truly quiet place.

Port Meadow, at the outskirts of Oxford, is common land to everyone. Surrounded by trees, so that only the tips and spires of some of Oxford’s buildings are visible from the field, Port Meadow is meant to be preserved and used only for walking and jogging or grazing horses and cows. I liked the horses, but the cows scared me. Never before had I considered running through a field filled with these animals--three times my size--but upon trying it, I found that it was an exhilarating experience. Often, I would breeze down the footpath, barely being able to make out the dark cow shapes at the other end of the field. But occasionally these grazers decided to be a little more friendly. There were times when I found them right at the edge of the path, nodding their heads solicitously as I nervously trod past them. Eventually I came to welcome their company as a kind of challenge--that is, I felt a certain thrill when I was able to overcome my apprehension at their closeness and keep running. Only once did they cause me to turn around, as I recall--when one particularly menacing-looking cow planted itself directly in the pathway and stared at me as I approached. I decided not to challenge it’s territory.

Despite stubborn bovines, the meadow was a quieting place for me to go and shake off the worries of the day. Sometimes I would go alone to think and to talk to God. Other times I went with a friend. The very spirit of the meadow seemed to encourage those deep conversations between friends about life, love, and God. Maybe it was the wide open sky or the calm serenity of being surrounded by nature. Other people must have felt the draw of the place as well, because I often saw one, two, or groups of them - usually with one or more dogs along - strolling the field in conversation or reflective silence.

When my boyfriend, Micah - now my husband - came to visit me from Texas, we packed some sandwiches and fresh fruit and headed down the meadow path. We passed through a gated fence into a part of the meadow where the animals couldn’t venture, then spread our picnic on a small hill that caught both the sunshine and the cooling breeze. That afternoon is now my favorite memory from Oxford. We stayed until the sun began to dip behind the trees at the edge of the field. It was an unforgettable time of talking, sharing our hearts, and enjoying being together after a long separation.

Slightly more than a year has passed since I lived in Oxford. Right before I left, I took one last walk through Port Meadow, snapping several pictures on my camera to help me remember what it felt like to walk there. Even though I am now back home across the ocean, I have come to realize that the meadow is with me still. It is an integral part of me; in fact, it always has been. Inside me is that place where all else is stripped away, where the self-made facade does not penetrate. It is the real me. It is the part of me that I had no hand in creating. It is in this region of myself that I question and consider concepts about life and God. It is here where I connect on some mysterious level with my Love--my husband--and the reason we know we are soul mates.
My own meadow was created by God, and so I have asked Him to take it back for Himself. I sometimes come here to meet and talk with Him, though not as often as I should. Why not, I wonder? There is such peace when we are here together.

Here in my innermost sanctum, I sometimes meet my demons. Much of the time they are far away, but sometimes they place themselves directly in front of me and attempt to block my path forward. These are the areas of myself that are flawed and imperfect. These are the messages that the enemy aims at my soul, mocking me for my unworthiness. They are intruders in my field, and I fear them. But what joy I feel when--with a strength not my own--I am able to face and overcome those fears!

Perhaps this is the reason I felt so at home in Port Meadow, the reason I sought it out whenever I could. The meadow is a reflection of my soul.


Blogger Carrie said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely post! I am still so envious of your semester in England . . . what an awesome experience. :) I have to ask, did you buy your wedding gown in that little shop?

Ahhh, someday . . . hubby and I will have to take a European trip! Maybe for our 25th anniversary!

4:47 PM, October 05, 2005  
Blogger Erin said...

You time over there WAS wonderful. But it will be even more special to be there with your husband! Micah did get to visit me for a week in England...but most of my time spent there was without him to share it with. Someday we want to travel Europe TOGETHER. So much more special...and romantic:o)...that way!

No, I bought my dress here in the states. I was in England in the fall of '02, and we didn't become engaged until the following spring.

10:27 PM, October 05, 2005  

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