Rachel in London

Rachel is spending the June 2009 term in SMU-in-Taos, where the photography courses she is taking will complement her journalism degree. After Taos, she’s immediately off to SMU-in-London, where she’ll study journalism from the British point of view, as well as the history of postwar European cinema.

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Worshipping at Westminster Abbey

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Stepping out of the Underground, the sun immediately kisses our faces. I feel a great, overwhelming sense of delight well up within me, as I spot Westminster Abbey off to my right. My emotions are in tune with Marianne Dashwood, in Sense and Sensibility, when she says, “Is there any felicity in the world superior to this?!”

Sunday, July 5

I groggily come out of the fog of sleep. I groan, stretch and quickly jerk upright in bed. Whoa, there! This is no dream. I am in Reid Hall at Regent’s College, smack in the middle of London! I am grateful not to have jetlag, but not grateful for my tense, tight, and sore shoulder muscles from lugging two 50-pound pieces of luggage up several flights of stairs to the third floor. The view from our window had made it all worth it.

I glance over to see my roommate, Rachel (funny, huh?), sitting up in bed as well. I ask her what time it is and inwardly kick myself for not bringing a watch since I rely on my phone so much (which I can’t use for expense purposes). She tells me it’s 8:30 am. Yikes! I just remembered we are all attending church service at Westminster Abbey.

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I quickly take a shower and go to blow-dry my hair, only to find that my hair dryer won’t go to the high setting … arrrgh! I love Europe, but dang their technology and electricity! Everything seems hard at the moment. Even my internet won’t work on my laptop. I take a deep breath and try not to freak out. I ended up pulling my hair into a cute (hopefully), wet bun and let the little wisps of baby hair frame my face. At least I saved time. I slip into my light, white dress and high-heeled red pumps.

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Off we dash! We take the Tube all the way. We are quickly ushered into the church to our seats. As I head to my seat, I notice all the graves that are around and under me. I feel a flood of mixed emotions when I spot the grave and sculpture of William Wilberforce (the leader of the slave abolition). So many great men were buried and preached here!

I glance ahead in my program while the organist gloriously plays. I am thrilled to see that I know two of the three hymns that will be sung. The way the seating is arranged in the church is very different. It’s shaped like a cross. I wasn’t able to see the choir or the organist. We all stood in respect when the Lord Mayor of Westminster walked in escorting his elegant wife. There was so much pomp and poise. The Lord Mayor was wearing some sort of ceremonial robe. He is the youngest mayor they have ever had at Westminster.

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The mayor reads from the Bible, Mark 10:35-45. Reverend Nicholson (reverend to the Lord Mayor of Westminster) proceeds to give a brief message. I almost laugh aloud as he begins with a quote from John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your government can do for you but what you can do for your government.”

It’s the end of the service and I am wishing, with a vengeance, that I hadn’t worn my red high heels. I can tell major blisters and sores are forming. We all are standing forever as each royal, high-up person is escorted out. I keep forgetting how seriously and reverently they treat the higher class here. I am beaming inside as I pass the Lord Mayor and his wife at the big doors. I nod respectfully to both of them, smile brightly, and say to the mayor, “Thank you so much for reading for us from the Word.” They both smile kindly back at me.

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Now to head back to my room for a quick nap before the Big Bus Tour at 5 pm. More to follow. I am so happy to be back writing my adventures. Tuesday I’ll be heading to Parliament!

Peace out, friends!

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