Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A London Landmark, and a Sanctuary

After the Tower of London we stepped inside the oldest church in London, just a few steps northwest of the tower. We were met by the most charming and unassuming tour guide, who showed us the Saxon Arch (670 a.d.) and then the Roman floor (180 a.d.). He also told us wonderful stories, and the origin of ceremonies such as "beating the border," and delivering a red rose to the mayor annually in payment for the unauthorized construction of a bridge that has long since disappeared.

We walked just a few more blocks and discovered another church, designed by Sir Chrisopher Wren in the 17th century, that was bombed during WWII. Only the tower remains, and a few outer walls, but the church and the city have left it as a reminder, and turned it into the most peaceful garden. What could have been an ugly scar has been turned into a peace of refuge and contemplation in the center of a busy city.

After a lovely stop, we walked along the Thames to the National Theatre and saw "Les Blancs"...a very sobering and thoughtful play about race relations in south Africa. It reminded me of the book I read about orphanages in Nepal, where some of the charitable work we do as Americans actually ends up furthering and increasing the problem of child abduction there. Balancing our charitable impulses with real information and what will truly do the most good is never as simple as it seems.

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