Musings on scones, books, and excursions.
In case anyone was wondering, I make the best scones ever. No, really. I should here be humble and admit that this is mostly due to the fact that I found a superb scone recipe. Which you can also find here. But after an afternoon in which a bit of baking and a good cup of tea seemed the fit and right and lovely thing to do, and the resulting splendor was a plain delight, I couldn’t resist a bit of boasting here. And I thought you might like to try them yourself.
The cultural overtones of scones and tea, however, fit a general theme of my life right now (as if tea ever didn’t fit my life) and it is with a cup of tea raised that I inform you of my upcoming move to Oxford. Oh yes, I’m headed back to the city of dreaming spires.
The story is long, the pieces that fell into place rather countless, and startling, the surprise of it almost overwhelming (it was all rather last-minute this summer), and the delight of it palpable every day.
I’m starting a year-long course in theology at Wycliffe Hall, and hope to do a bit of C.S. Lewis study on the side.
Just wanted you to know, so that when I post a bevy of Oxfordian pictures from my ramblings, you’ll know why. England in the autumn… now that is a full delight I have never tasted.
I’m sorry I’ve been absent from the space here for a bit. It’s been a whirlwind of a month. I will tell you, though, that I finally launched the Storyformed.com website, and released my new book, Caught Up in a Story. The delight, and let’s be honest, utter relief, of having those projects complete is profound. And to hold my finished book, a book in which I fought to express some of my deepest beliefs about story, in my hand, is quite satisfying to the soul.
I will be posting again soon. First, a companion post to the first one I did on the Lake District. I found some unexpected depths of thought waiting for me on that supposed vacation, and I’ve slowly been untangling them into a coherent essay. And then, who knows. Whatever new wonder I find.
For now, briefly, a few things that have caught my eye, riveted my mind, or challenged my thought of late.
First, the children’s novel I Am David. I’ve been perusing some children’s books I missed in childhood as part of the book lists and reviews I do over at Storyformed. I checked this one out from the library, sat down to skim it one early morning, and found myself riveted by the spare, frank, somehow tender prose recounting a little boy’s escape from a concentration camp, and his gradual education in what it means to be free. Not merely physically liberated. Not free simply to do what one wants. But free to experience the beautiful. To encounter joy. And even to submit to the holy bonds of love.
Second, I’ve returned to Thomas Merton’s The Sign of Jonas, a really soul nourishing collection of contemplations and journal entries from his early years at Gethsemani. This isn’t dramatic reading, nor are these long, well-argued chapters for devotional study. Rather, they are pieces, bits and gems collected from the years in which Merton was fresh to his vocation, daily formed in his views on silence, community, contemplation, prayer. He watches the sky, observes his own heart at prayer, marks his many frustrations, confesses his inconstancy, glories in a storm, or a swift bird in flight. It’s the kind of writing that settles me into my own ordinary, remarkable round of hours, reawakened to the possibility of an encounter with God in every nook and cranny of existence.
Third, I really love woodcuts and engravings. So when I discovered that Mary Azarian, the woodcut illustrator of some of my favorite children’s books, has a whole website devoted to her art and books, I was elated. And I acquired two of her beautiful books. If you, like me, love the spare, clear cut artistry of this kind of image, you will revel in her website.
Anyway. That’s that, my friends. I hope your summers are drawing to a satisfactory close. As I type, I’m watching the sun send a last flow of honey light down the valley. The aspens are beginning to shimmer in gold. The air is cool, sweet, tanged with the musty spice of dying leaves and damp earth. And a swift, fairy wind stirs the pine boughs and startles the birds in the dappled, purple sky. And an old lyric sings in my head…
There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir…
Sarah Clarkson is an author, blogger, and student of theology at the University of Oxford. She loves books, beauty, and imagination and wants everyone else to understand why they should too. She is the author of Read for the Heart (a guide to children’s literature) and Caught Up in a Story, an exploration of the way that narrative and imagination form a child’s sense of self. She wrote The Lifegiving Home with her mother, Sally Clarkson, and blogs about home, books, Oxford, and beauty at thoroughlyalive.com. When not chasing doctrinal mysteries down in the Bodleian, walking the meadows, or drinking another good cup of coffee, Sarah can be found at home with a good novel in the red-doored English house she shares with her husband, Thomas.