To understand and to be understood.

When I think of the UK, visions of clouds, Wellingtons, moors with whipping wind, and other such romantic visions enter my mind.  As I went through border control in the Gatwick airport, the kind British woman remarked, "It's a pity the weather won't be nice for you."

With my miniature wellies on my feet, I was ready to finally see the land I fantasized about as a child, when I had hoped to develop a posh accent that would entitle me to adoration and popularity for the rest of my life.  As I entered the Oxford-bound bus, however, developing a posh accent was the last of my hopes for my weekend in Oxford.

While living in a foreign country, it's important to have modes by which one can be refreshed, reminded of roots, or somehow stabilized and centered.  When I left for university, my new church was this haven; one advantage of faith is that it supersedes borders of states, countries, ethnicities, and languages.  Nonetheless, at times, I get quite nostalgic for English-speaking congregations and services.  Just a few weeks ago, I had a strong case of this, which led to some internal struggle as I chastised myself for being discontent.  On that day, I was encouraged by the reminder that I would soon be traveling to Oxford to visit my old university friend Caroline, who is also a Christian.

I had a four-day weekend due to the holiday of May 8, which was the day in 1945 when the European part of World War II ended.  So, naturally, I flew off to Oxford.   People asked me there often the purpose of my trip, and I repeated again and again, "I'm not here to see Oxford; I'm here to see Caroline."

Within a couple of hours of my arrival to Oxford, Caroline and I were in a prayer room affiliated with the church she is connected with.  A couple hours later we were at a students' night in St Aldates Church.  I sang in English.  I listened to a short message in English.  I discussed the Bible in English.  I nearly cried (in English).

I firmly believe that one of human's deepest longings is to understand and to be understood.  This is a matter not only of language, but of history, culture, faith, family, emotion, and more.  Though each development in the Czech language, I take a small step towards understanding and being understood on a linguistic level, but to be in Oxford among people with the same language, the same faith, and a similar (definitely not the same) culture caused profound thankfulness within me.  Moreover, to share that weekend with a girl who had known me in my university years--thus knowing and having shared some of my history--was an even greater gift.

So when I picture my weekend in the UK, I don't picture dreary romantic scenes, but blue skies, bright sunlight, and the united choir's voice echoing through Christ Church.

Thanks, Caroline.


  1. Love these pictures and resonate with being understood. It can make a huge difference to know someone gets you.

    My favorite picture is the last large one before the collage - the street shot with the cobblestones and puddle of water. Gorgeous colors and textures.


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