|“Winds in the east, mist coming in, like something is brewin’ and bout to begin…”|
It all began at Half Price Books when I stumbled upon Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Webber. The description of a secular feminist English scholar converting to Christianity at Oxford intrigued me, but what really caught my eye was the reference to the liturgical calendar which guides Oxford University’s academic year. Fast forward six months or so… in September, I finally bought the book and dove in with the sole purpose of learning about that mysterious liturgical calendar. As it turned out, beyond a few pages in the preface, Caro (as the author calls herself) rarely referenced it. I, however, was in for my own surprise…
A bit of background- after finishing his six-year enlistment with the Navy in 2016, we moved to Lexington where my husband (S.P.D) began using the GI Bill to earn an undergraduate degree in Architecture at the University of Kentucky (UK). Throughout his time, God has astonished us with favor. Professors in a variety of fields including Philosophy, English, and Historic Preservation have urged S.P.D. to join their programs or pursue Master’s degrees in their fields with the possibility of full ride scholarships. Each time, S.P.D. received these comments as high compliments but prayerfully stayed focused on architecture. Our expectation was that, after graduation in May, he would pursue a Master’s degree in Architecture at UK.
I began my venture into Surprised by Oxford as a naïve pleasure reader. Caro’s descriptions of Oxford’s rich culture and multidisciplinary approach to education captivated me the way C.S. Lewis’s descriptions of Narnia dazzle readers- marvelous, but entirely unattainable. I progressed happily through Caro’s memoir until one fateful nap time. As I sat in bed reading with a cup of tea steaming beside me, a thought struck my brain like an arrow hitting a bull’s eye. Stephen should go to Oxford. Like a jumble of jigsaw pieces unexpectedly connecting to form an image, I was surprised to realize how Stephen’s gifting in philosophy, literature, and history, as well as architecture seemed to perfectly come together in one place.
But wasn’t that entirely unattainable?