Sunday, December 6, 2015

     There are so many different kinds of beauty in this world.  There is the loving beauty of a family and the security they provide.  There is an innocent beauty in children.  Places have beauty too.        There is an impressive beauty in Paris where the buildings are tall, towering, and very old.  There is a wild beauty in Scotland where there are miles of untamed hills.  There is impressive and terrifying beauty at the Cliffs of Moher.  There is powerful beauty in the movements of ballet dancers.  Finally, there is majestic beauty in certain buildings, like Bath Abbey.
     Since coming to Swansea, I have learned to better appreciate beauty.  I have had the opportunity to walk through some of the best museums, view the best collections, and see some of the variety this world has to offer.  Two of those recent experiences, watching the Russian State Ballet perform The Nutcracker and visiting Bath Abbey for a service, were truly amazing.
    I initially bought tickets to see Nutcracker because it was being performed by the Russian Ballet.  After watching Cinderella earlier though, I was genuinely excited for the performance.  But nothing could have prepared me for it. 
     Every move was perfect, every costume shone, and every leap was impossibly high.  The show felt as if it lasted 20 minutes because it was so engrossing.  The live orchestra was fantastic and there was never a moment to focus on the coughs or uncomfortable seats that I am sure where there.  The beauty of this ballet was powerful, because it successfully pulled an entire audience, or at least just me, away from the mundane world filled with buses and essays, into a world where the Rat King will always fall and Sugar Plum Fairies dance.
     Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Bath Christmas Market, thanks to Swansea Uni.  I enjoyed every aspect of the trip.  From visiting the Jane Austen Centre to exploring all 161 little booths, everything seemed to be perfect.  Then we went to Bath Abbey.  A friend and I happened to be walking by the front of the abbey, as they were welcoming people in for a short service.  We decided to go.  It was one of the most rewarding decisions I have ever made.
     I had visited the Abbey previously, and had admired the HUGE organ, but hearing it play was a different experience all together.  In modern churches, the idea is to have carpet everywhere to dampen the sound.  All the reverb is cancelled out, so the notes stay “pure.”  I think the Abbey was designed with the opposite in mind.  Apart from the seat covers on the pews, the abbey is made of hard surfaces, stone and wood, so the sound echoes again and again. This means that notes sometimes linger, leaving a “sour” sound.  But it doesn’t sound wrong.
     The notes linger because they are powerful.  To dampen the power would be to take away from its beauty.
     To say I love the city of Bath would be an understatement.  Lively yet relaxed, unlike London or OKC (although those are two vastly different sized cities), Bath seems to offer something new and beautiful around every corner.  I understand why Jane Austen was so focused on Bath:  it truly is an amazing place.
     Well, as I write this I am officially in my last week in Wales.  I leave Cardiff Sunday and layover in Dublin for 16 hours.  Then I fly from Dublin back to the US.  I am excited to be going home, I can’t wait to see my family!  But, I want to come back.  I want to go home and see my US friends and family and then come back to my Swansea family.
     I am not ready to leave the church that has so welcomed and loved me here.  I am not ready to leave the Uni that has provided a fun and exciting education.  And I am not ready to leave my Swansea family.  I want to see my family at home and then come back here.  I want to wake up in my flat, lack of hot water and all, and walk down the hall to hear giggles from my flat mates.  I want Nandos on the weekend and walks to Spar through the rain.  I want trips to Mumbles and adventures in Bath.  But I also want my family from home.  In a perfect world, I could combine Swansea and NWOSU, and I could merge Alva, Enid, and Swansea.  But this isn’t a perfect world.  I can only be in one place at a time.  Which means, in just a few short days, I will be leaving this home, and headed to another. 

     So with my remaining time here, I am determined to enjoy myself.  I have a week left to make memories here, and I intend to make those memories good.  

Welcome to the Christmas Markets!

The Jane Austen Centre

Jane, Bill, and I.  :)

At Bath Circus looking at the Crescent.  

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