Friday, March 2, 2007

Last Day at Tyndale House: Sad Ending. Joyful Anticipation.

After I arrive home and have an opportunity to settle back into the routines of our home life, then I will offer some reflections upon studying and research in Cambridge at Tyndale House. For today, I simply offer this simple observation. It is a day of sadness mingled with joyful anticipation, sadness that long days (8:00 AM to 10:00 PM) dedicated to research in a superb biblical studies library had to come to a close, but joyful anticipation of embracing my wife, Lois, at the airport in Minneapolis tomorrow afternoon and being reunited with our sons, their wives (John & Naomi, expectant with our second grandchild, and David & Renae) and our granddaughter, Anna.

a measure of disappointment into the mix of sadness and joyful anticipation, too. Today, as I was leaving Tyndale House, Martin Hengel was arriving. The good folks at Tyndale House hosted Martin Hengel who will be honored tomorrow now in his eightieth year. Dr. Peter Head, New Testament Research Fellow at Tyndale House and Fellow at St. Edmund's College (Cambridge University), kindly arranged for Tyndale House to host Martin Hengel during morning tea time. Regrettably, when I made my travel arrangements I had no knowledge of the special event tomorrow. Had I known, I almost surely would have extended my stay by at least one day. The bright side is that I have an even greater event awaiting me tomorrow, I will see my wife again. Sorry Dr. Hengel.

The Georgian pediment and familiar red door, the front door to my residence for the past several weeks, welcomed me when I arrived and bid me goodbye as I departed. Truly, it is a doorway to biblical studies.

As the bus rolled out of Cambridge I looked upon a number of scenes that had become quite familiar during my stay in the old city--bicyclists wending their way to lectures, children walking to school, athletes practicing with a ball on the green, scholars carrying their bags as they walk to their colleges, and a man with sunken eyes and no teeth scrounging for food in a refuse can on the green as people of all walks of life busily pass by taking no notice of him.

After leaving Tyndale Hous
e by Panther Taxi to Dummer Street, I boarded a National Express bus bound for Gatwick airport by way of stops at Stansted and Heathrow airports. About four and half hours later we arrived at the south terminal of Gatwick airport. I called Carmel at Cumberland House, and in just a short time she was there to pick me up. (If you need a room near Gatwick, I commend Cumberland House. Carmel and Clive are wonderful hosts.)

For dinner, I trudged through the rain under my umbrella down to Ye Olde Six Bells pub, where the aroma and warmth of flames in the fireplace welcomed guests. I'll have you know that I did not make the same mistake about ordering water as I did last time. I decided this evening to celebrate the close of sev
eral weeks of intensive research and my anticipation of being home tomorrow. So it was neither bottled 'still water' nor tap water on ice for me.

As I sat alone, enjoying my meal quietly celebrating an end and a beginning, I observed others in the pub. Two couples, in particular, were of interest, and both were Americans, as I surmised by overhearing their manner speech and content of conversation. One was a married pair of 'seasoned citizens.' The other was an obviously unmarried couple early in middle age. The married couple barely conversed. O
h, I suppose that they care for one another, but no one would have made the mistake of thinking they did, given their demeanor. The other couple, quite obviously not married to one another but speaking of their spouses or former spouses and children, were also obviously enjoying one another. They talked continuously and with noticeable gestures of affection. "What a situation!" I thought. Two couples, one married but barely speaking to one another, another not married to one another but clearly romantically involved with one another, and there I sat, married but without my wife. We would have been speaking with one another, romantically involved with one another, and married to one another. Tomorrow, I will hug her and kiss my wife. One more night, then I'm home.

Update: While at Gatwick Airport, I happened to see both couples that I had seen the night before at the pub. The younger couple were airline flight attendants walking together toward the gate for their flight. The older couple were as detached from one another as the night before.