50. In Which We Discuss Tea Rooms and Yoga

Arrowheads quilt block

This Bible passage ends with these words:

“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge – no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”

Wow, that’s quite a promise. It exudes confidence and peace. I’ll take it.

I just returned from a month of travel. We started in England, bounced around the coasts of Guernsey, Ireland, and Scotland, then spent time in London, France, and Germany. My plan was to continue reading through the Bible while traveling, because I peeked ahead in the book. The Bible Sampler quilt blocks almost jump straight from Proverbs to the New Testament. There’s a whole lot of Bible in between, and I wanted to take advantage of the time off the internet to read through those books the old-school way. By the way, I’m happy to report that LOTS of people still read books the old-fashioned way. I saw them in the train stations and subway systems throughout Europe.

But of course I was too busy looking at them, and other amazing things, and meeting amazing people, to keep to my own reading plan. And I couldn’t help but notice the changes since I’d last travelled there forty years ago.

One recurring change kept popping out at me. As I strolled the streets of London, the ornate Victorian buildings were unchanged. The parks, the streets, all still there. The city was as picturesque and grand as I had remembered it to be. I love London. I’d be ready to take a photo of a charming, historic city block, but a huge “YOGA” sign kept me from snapping the photo. Now I wish I would have. A collection of yoga studio photos of London would be – I don’t know – a commentary of sorts? Living in this first world of ease and increased leisure hours due to the advances of technology; yoga studios are flourishing because people need to go somewhere to “breathe”? Hmmm.

Now that I think of it, the last time I was in London there were no yoga studios. However, you could find a quaint little tea room within a minute or two of wishing for a good cream tea. They were tucked into the city blocks, little oases from the hustle and bustle of the work day. And I remember Britain stopping at 11:00 to have their “Elevenses” – a national tea break. I am not making this up. At first it was a cause for frustration, because I was accustomed to the consumer-driven service experience of my Californian upbringing. “You mean I have to WAIT twenty minutes for the person to come back off of their break?” But now, let’s just think about this. Isn’t it true that the richer society is the one that has mastery over its choices when considering the use of time, and therefore the quality of life spent in it? In time, I learned to embrace the elegance of the elevenses.

I also remember from forty years ago, with less fondness, Wimpy Burgers and coffee bars. I didn’t see any of these this time around. No surprise there.

So I guess stretching and posing and breathing has replaced cozy visits with friends while sipping hot beverages and nibbling sweets. My old crotchety soul wanted to use the verb “usurped” rather than “replaced”. Either way, it’s still about connecting with other people. And I will admit that yoga has a healthier result. So I suppose progress is indeed moving us forward, even though I think an hour spent in a tea room is much more appealing to me than enduring a sweaty workout.

Even better, an hour spent in the reading of Psalms would be the best use of my time. Namaste.

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