In my professional and personal worlds there is nothing quite equal to it. A superlative conference certainly – but Oxbridge is far more than that.
Oxbridge is, in its essence, a merging of like-minded and like-hearted people into a growing organism with a single point of purpose.
Each of us here are drawn by a voice we have heard in C.S. Lewis at some point in our lives to the same something that he himself was drawn to. And we are now drawn by the same voice of the Holy Spirit that called Lewis before us. We come from rich and wide diversity: young and old, black, brown, white and Asian, men and women, scholars, artists, laymen, clergy, accomplished and humble but all with hearts drawn irresistibly back to a shared spiritual point of origin.
My friend Holly Ordway has already written beautifully about some of the day to day experiences we have had in Oxbridge and you can read her post about it here on Holly’s site or on the blog site for the C.S. Lewis Foundation here. Cole Matson has also written ably about this and his comments can be read here on the Foundation’s blog site here.
Overtly, Oxbridge is an event designed and executed for the enrichment of our senses representing the integration of both reason and imagination. And to this end, Oxbridge is, of course, blissfully successful! Watching the superb Lamb’s Players performing, hearing the sweet melodic music of Steve Bell‘s single guitar and inviting voice and being emotionally transported by the City of Oxford Orchestra and the Institute Chorale are strong tastes of the fruit of integrated reason and imagination. One of the great gifts of Oxbridge and the C.S. Lewis Foundation is the de-shaming of the artistically gifted and trained in the company of the academically trained. It reflects the glory of God to see the blessing and empowerment given between each other this way.
Intellectually Oxbridge is an overwhelmingly rich feast. Where else can anyone listen to the range of scintillating intellect that we are offered here? We have been invited into the most beautiful of civilized surroundings in Oxford and Cambridge to listen to brilliant, bold discourse from Randy Alcorn, Kevin Belmonte, Mary Poplin, Vishal Mangalwadi, Os Guinness, Malcolm Guite, Stan Mattson, Joseph Pearce, Ken Blanchard, Charles Colson, Roberta Hestenes, and Jonathan Aitken. Mornings full of strong words from our plenary sessions are like meat. Afternoons of training sessions in smaller clusters are like our bread, where ideas and concepts are explored in greater and more individual depth. Evenings of remarkable arts from the beautiful simple forms to the simply beautiful are like wine. All of it interlaced with the truly remarkable opportunities to sit with speakers as friends and labourers with the same purpose, for the same shared call and the same High King. And everywhere is God’s presence felt.
On an experiential level Oxbridge is also about friendship “ building new ones, deepening old ones, and encouraging others to enter into those as well. The feeding ground for this is rich here. Of all the remarkable things that the C.S. Lewis Foundation does I believe that this is one of the most, if not the most, important and impactful in our world. Long-lived friendships are born at nearly every function and it is a key focus of all our endeavors to help connect and nurture those crucial relationships that sustain each of us as we go out faithfully again to serve in our particular communities in the wide world at large.
The simple truth is that the Foundation itself is the product of long-lived friendships among men and women answering a rally cry in common and taking the same path together of fellowship and single minded purpose. The shared purpose of reclaiming our cultures with both reason and imagination is the still the mission of the C.S Lewis Foundation. To that end, you are invited to join us as well. Come to our next Oxbridge!
The images above, even after the years that have elapsed, still give me a deep joy of memory and belonging. These are remarkable human beings whom it is a privilege to know and an honour to serve. My gratitude is extended to the C. S. Lewis Foundation. The foretaste of Heaven and the gift of friendship we experience in Foundation events continues to be life-changing for all who attend.
Many blessings to you, friends!
Lancia E. Smith is an author, photographer, teacher, and business owner. A grateful lover of the Triune God, Lancia is passionate about disciple making. Reflecting an irresistible calling to the intersection of faith and the arts, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Cultivating, and of The Cultivating Project, a discipling initiative for Christians engaged in the arts. She is President and CEO of a thriving environmental consulting and construction firm based in northern Colorado which she runs with her husband Peter. They are parents to seven children, and are grandparents to a beloved flock of grandchildren. An inveterate book collector and giver, Lancia loves website and garden design, beautiful typography, David Austin roses, Marvel movies, road trips and being read aloud to by Peter. She cherishes every book she ever read by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald.