Perhaps some people who are new to my blog might find it a bit strange that I alternate between serious posts on social, theological or political issues … and well, travelogues. But I’ve often said two of the things I’m most passionate about are God’s Word and God’s world – and I’m always keen to explore how those intersect with my life and the issues of those around me. So today is Monday again, and therefore as I often do, I’m imagining a place I have previously visited and what it would be like to spend the day there today.
I have lots of study to get done this week as I am heading off on some real life travels shortly. So today is just a short post for inspiration. If anywhere should encourage study, it’s Oxford!
What did I love about Oxford?
All the Universities I have studied with have been great places of learning, but as relatively young institutions they just don’t have the “hallowed halls” of places like Oxford.
My sister and I spent the day at Oxford a few years ago, and there was certainly a sense of being in another time, imagining life as a scholar in this place.
It’s hard not to wonder about all the great thinkers who have passed through these doors throughout the centuries.
I’d love to spend the day in just one of the libraries, discovering all the ideas and passions of those who have written in the areas I am interested in. For me, one of the joys of study is getting to “meet” people through their books!
What did I learn from Oxford?
I am reminded why I am a lifelong student: because I love learning. I love discovering new ideas, sharing ideas with others, thinking about things differently, asking questions and seeking a range of possible answers, imagining new ways of doing things, and considering how I might be able to change my small corner of the world.
Going back to study since lecturing has also helped me have some sympathy for the struggles of students – yes, sometimes it is hard to stay motivated, and sometimes it is hard to see how some things you are learning will make a difference to your life.
But I have been to too many places around the world where education is denied to many, particularly young women, to take my studies for granted. Learning is a great privilege, and it can be part of both growing in understanding and being formed in character, if we let it.
I also believe education brings a responsibility. I don’t study to amass knowledge for myself, but rather to be better equipped to teach and share and engage with others in ways that are helpful, inspiring and challenging, that they too might engage more thoughtfully with God’s world in whatever way they are called and equipped to do so.
It’d be lovely to be learning at Oxford today, but really, it doesn’t matter if you are in a famous institution or in the school of life, or somewhere in between – if you are reading this it is likely that you have the opportunity to learn something today! I’d encourage you to be grateful for the privilege, and to consider the responsibility it brings to share with others as you can.