If you haven’t read Andy’s blog post about the Learning Lab yet, do yourself a favor and hit “previous” to take a gander. He did a fantastic job summarizing the goings-on of the week and posted some lovely photos. Shannon encouraged me to share a bit about the Learning Lab as well, which will probably look a lot less succinct and logical than Andy’s update, but let’s be honest: I’m never too succinct or logical anyway! Here’s to attempting.. 😉
There is a phrase that I’ve heard Americans say, but the Brits use a lot more often and kind of out of habit, without too much thought. It’s the phrase “I’ll look after you.” For some reason, it just takes on this new connotation for me when uttered with an English accent, it’s more ardent and warm somehow– It means “I’ll take care of you,” “I’ve got your back,” “You’re safe with me.” I like it because it means these things but technically it implies that someone is looking behind you, following your steps and tracing your path. It is a hospitable phrase, I think. In attempts to trace the path of the Learning Lab, let us take a “look after” some of the highlights and instances of friendship and hospitality:
At the beginning of the Learning Lab, I felt a little bit out of place all of the sudden (Believe it or not, I hadn’t really felt out of place in England much until the Americans arrived and reminded me that I was, in fact, a wanna-be Londoner! :)). You see, there was a group of Matryoshka Haus Londoners, a group of Dallas, Texans… and me. The Alien from Austin (Don’t get me wrong- I’m a proud Austinite and proud of our tendency to be a bit alien). However, it didn’t take long until both groups of people welcomed one another, and we truly became a family (eating lots of meals together tends to encourage this, I think! It’s the Matryoshka Haus way!)
Some personal highlights for me were:
-Hearing Rob Pepper’s lovely spiel on art and sanctuary, and walking the bridge from the Tate Modern (which is free) to St. Paul’s Cathedral (which you have to pay to enter) and discussing how both places can be spiritual sanctuaries. Tim, a Bent Tree member, and I lit candles together at St. Paul’s and prayed for his family at home which was a dear moment for us both. If you are interested in learning more about Rob or his artwork (trust me, you’re interested!), look at his website.
-Discussing media and mission with Matryoshka Haus’ own Liz Clutterbuck, Threads’ Chine Mbubaegbu, and the dynamic Dave Tomlinson (author of “How to be a Bad Christian”).
-Some shameless tourism (at rush hour, mind you!) with two of my new best friends: Jen and Jennifer (Also fondly referred to as “the Jens” with utmost patience). In a mere two hours we covered all of the vitals: Baker Street, Platfrom 9 3/4 to catch the Hogwarts Express, and of course: Abbey Road. The latter was my personal favorite, as I have longed to visit since Day 1 in this great Bealtes-blessed city… And have had it on my bucket list for quite some time. However, it gets better: I didn’t simply want to cross Abbey Road- that would be far too mundane… I needed a better method of travel, one that communicated my utmost jubilee, my joyous gratitude for one of the greatest albums of recorded sound…
So I cartwheeled accross Abbey Road, ladies and gents.
Well, well. Now that that little detail is cartwheeling its way into humiliation… let us move on with haste! The Learning Lab was a glorious experiment in what learning looks like. I would assert that the Bent Tree folks weren’t the only ones to grow from the experience, as many Matryoshka Haus-holders have shared the impact it had on them as well. It was a cultural exchange, a steeping in post-modernity-tea, and a week-long conversation over that tea about purpose and mission in such a context. No matter our backgrounds, we found the world in common with one another- literally! I think we all have found new ways of “looking after” one another, and many new friends and adventures to come.