Alright, friends! Get your coffee, hot chocolate, chai, or sparkling water – whatever you want to imbibe. Settle in now while I show you these next images from the day of the Symposium. Ready for Part 2? Here we go!
London – Day 3 – The C.S. Lewis Symposium
It was a chilly and blustery day as is typical for London this time of year but we were blessed with some sunshine to counter the cold wind. No one in the queue to get into St Margaret’s complained about the cold and we saw lots of good-natured talking among those waiting for the doors to open.
Much to my delight, one of the first people I recognised in the queue is my beautiful friend, Sarah Clarkson.
Sarah is a brilliant writer who lives here in Colorado like me and, as God would have it, Sarah also happens to be friends with another beloved friend and fellow writer, Lanier Ivester! I continually marvel at “the staff work of the Omnipotence”, and at His great kindness in giving us fellowship with kindred kind nearby so we don’t grow too lonely.
Sarah was accompanied by her mom, Sally and her brother, Joel. It made for a lovely setting to do a quick family portrait, even if it is less than half their family!
Clarkson family in the Symposium queue
Off a corner of St. Margaret’s front gardens, there is a beautiful hydrangea shrub, which during late summer must be quite lovely, yet even as it prepares to enter its winter nap, the dried blooms still hold their marvellous architectural form as a reminder of their summer glory.
Dried Hydrangea – London
Then much to my absolute surprise and delight, who should I see in the blustery queue? The ever wonderful Dr. Jerry Root! Jerry is one of the most marvellous men it has ever been my pleasure to meet and it was a great joy to have him there in the midst of this event with all of us. There is a strong goodness attendant with Jerry Root and, like all goodness and holiness, it influences and grounds everyone else around it. I personally felt the strong, deep kindness of the Lord’s presence and something very much akin to spiritual security just knowing that Jerry Root was in our company there.
And then, not surprisingly, friend Andrew Lazo pops into view and the queue, now stretching out long, becomes a merry party of friends greeting each other!
Jerry Root and Andrew Lazo – London
It seemed like just seconds and we were joined by another friend, Jason Lepojärvi, Researcher at the University of Helsinki and former president of the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society.
Andrew Lazo and Jason Lepojärvi – London
Just then I happened to glance up through the trees and caught this view of the Union Jack flying in the wind over Sanctuary Road. How very fitting for the occasion!
Union Jack Flying over Sanctuary Road – London
The doors to St Margaret’s were opened at last and the chilly queue poured orderly but quickly into the warm and welcoming environment of the church. The walls of St Margaret’s are blessed to host very beautiful stained glass windows and the very old and beautiful stone of England which I love so dearly. The lights were warmly golden and everyone seemed very excited about being there and seeing others that they knew among the several hundred of us present!
Westminster Abbey has restrictions about photography in both the Abbey itself and St. Margaret’s, so much to my enduring disappointment, I cannot offer any images inside St Margaret’s of the Symposium gathering. I can, however, offer you links to the audio recordings of both the superb presentations by
speaking respectively on Lewis through the framework of Reason and Imagination and to the Panel discussion that followed later.
If you want to listen to the recordings, click on the bolded titles of their talks. In truth, I believe listening to these recordings will serve you far better than the images I could have created.
Alister McGrath gave a fine presentation, and at the end of it, he smiled, something he does not often do during his lectures. It was grace-filled and so delightful it really was one of my favourite moments of that afternoon. I believe, it reflected something of the warm sense of camaraderie that really filled that room.
This presentation was followed with a truly enchanting talk by Malcolm Guite speaking on the imaginative elements of Lewis’s integration of intellectual and spiritual being.
The recording of this is wonderful and really takes me right back to the experience. Believe it or not, I can actually hear my husband Peter clapping!
By the time we left these two happy presentations dark had fallen on London and attendees were invited Evensong services next door in the Abbey.
Front of St Margaret’s in late dusk – London
After Evensong, we all returned to St Margaret’s for the panel discussion chaired by Dr Michael Ward.
I cannot speak for everyone there – I know there are always mixed reviews – but I loved this panel and thought it was one of most enjoyable panels I’ve ever listened to. It was a lovely picture of intellectual diversity with various disciplines and backgrounds being represented. I greatly enjoyed the beautiful range of voices and accents, filling me evermore with the sense of how much the Lord delights in the uniqueness of His creations, perhaps especially as demonstrated through language and words.
Here is a link to the splendid recording of the panel discussion. This recording is truly worth listening to and unlike so many discussions set in this form, the responses to the audience questions are just fabulous!
After all this, with hearts and minds overflowing with the afternoon’s offering we left in various clusters and groups to find some dinner and fellowship. On our own way and while we gathered up our immediate party we met up with the lovely Martha Linder, as elegant and beautiful as I have ever seen her.
Martha Linder – London
As we sauntered off to dinner I was gratified to be met with a series of street lamps, something I love but seldom find where I live. I made a number of images of lamps lit, including this one. You can watch for e-cards from me using this one in the near future and you’ll know the story behind the image!
Westminster Abbey Lamp Light
Though by now it was late in the day, what followed next was one of my personal favourite experiences of the entire trip. Our group of friends gathered together in clusters at the elegant restaurant The Blue Boar right across the street from The Sanctuary House Hotel where many of us were staying. For the next two hours, we had the lovely experience of lingering and enjoying each other’s company over a superb meal together.
The Company We Kept at The Blue Boar
One of the quiet wonders of the event for me was watching my son-in-law Jay, whom I have known since his boyhood, talking with Diana Glyer and with Will Vaus over dinner. I watched the pure marvel of God’s goodness in bringing my family life into harmonious orbit with some of my dearest friends and with my professional world in that two hour period. Jay’s face was something no image can really capture but it lives vividly in my own mind’s eye. I loved listening to him discuss questions with Diana and Will on one side of me, and turn my head and see Peter discussing issues with Stan Mattson on the other side of me and then laugh with delight talking with Jean Mattson in front of me. Something in that time was simply, beautifully, blissfully magic.
Jay Mountjoy at The Blue Boar – London
Jay and Diana discussing Lewis – London
Josh and Will Vaus at The Blue Boar – London
Golden Girls – Diana Glyer and Hannah Thomas
Hannah is a friend of Diana’s and joined as a companion on this journey. She is one of my favourite gifts of the trip. I did not know her before, but my circle of friendship has been enriched by our meeting.
Hannah by candlelight at the Blue Boar – London
With full hearts and full bellies, we wandered off to our respective shelters for the night carrying happy hopes for the coming day in Westminster Abbey.
Click here for Part 1 of this series.
Click here for Part 3 of this series.
Click here for Part 4 – Tea at the Kilns.
All of the images presented here are by me, Lancia E. Smith, and used with my permission for Cultivating.
Lancia E. Smith is an author, photographer, teacher, and business owner. A grateful lover of the Triune God, Lancia is the Founder & Executive Director of Cultivating & The Cultivating Project. She has served in executive management, church leadership, boards, and Art & Faith organizations over 30 years. She & her husband Peter have parented 7 children, & have a flock of beloved grandchildren. Lancia loves garden and website design, beautiful typography, road trips, being read aloud to by Peter, & cherishes every book she ever read by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald.
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