Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DAY FOUR: Preston and Chorley

"It snows in the South, but people are just smart enough to stay inside."--American South History Professor (Winter Semester 2009)

All of September fell on us today. Now I know what it feels like to traipse through Kent for 9 miles in the rain. It had to happen, since September merely sprinkled, and October certainly got its revenge. My socks were so wet I could wring them out. Was it worth it?: Yes. I had my first truly packed tube experience, with mean glares being shot at all of us crammed girls as we fell over every time the tube stopped. I learned that I’m terrified of the possibility of slipping down steep, slippery hills. I confirmed that no matter how high your spirits, damp socks always brings them down. I tried Ginger Beer with .05% alcohol in it, and it burned down my throat; the closest I’ll ever get to drinking an alcoholic beverage while on earth. And now, just thinking about the entire walk, I’m so glad I did it.

For the most part, I forgot to take pictures. This really doesn’t bother me, but pictures are necessary for my blog entries if they’re to count for class. So here you are:

 Now, steadily onward with the North.

24 September 2009.

“It’s very possible I’ve been to the place where my first ancestor to cross the Atlantic to the New World grew up. What better place to find it out than at the Preston Temple? I’ve always wanted to go to the Isle of Man—always—merely to be where Standish grew up and was born. I can’t explain why. Maybe because he gives me courage that none of the world is quite so scary as the prospect of never having left home. The New World was the equivalent of what many seemingly far-off countries are today and if it weren’t for him—just one of many, but on the whole, a representative of that whole—I might not have been an American, or a believer of my particular faith. God has everything in mind, doesn’t he? And there are pieces of Standish that followed his family straight to my family, even if I don’t know what they are. With Standish’s emigration to the Americas there is a bloodline of my family that has lived in America for about 370 years—almost as long as any English man could have been in America—and so I can no longer call myself of British or English descent even in blood, because I am American. More in heart, probably, than anything else.

“The Preston temple is beautiful, but I still have yet to find a temple that really gets me. Probably an uncomfortable and unfortunate (and rare) side effect of being exposed to so many beautiful things in my life time, temples included. I think temples are beautiful, of course, but I never seem to have the same intense admiration for their beauty as others. I do wish to find one that I simply cannot get over seeing. This temple may come the closest. What I love most are the lily pads on the ponds in front of the temple and the inscription near the top that reads ‘Holiness to the Lord.’ I know most temples, if not all, have that inscription, but it’s what I love about them all. And I love the placement on this one—on the steeple, right in the middle. It’s what we do, like the Catholics and the Anglicans and the Indus and the Sihks, to dedicate our most beautiful works to God, a way of saying: ‘We give up these riches, pour them into the creation of a beautiful place to worship, to see, to stand as a beacon of our love for God.’

“Undoubtedly, being here is peaceful—that is alike with nearly all temples—one place I really never mind being alone.

“After Preston today, I felt I couldn’t really connect. I don’t know a whole lot about my British/Mormon ancestry during the 1830s and 40s—my Mom would say I don’t know enough about my ancestry at all!—and so I didn’t feel like anything I saw pertained to me. I thought seeing the River Ribble where the first baptisms of the church in Britain were held was incredible, I loved walking around the town where apostles walked, and I loved going to the little towns in the Ribble Valley where the missionaries taught. The problem was as much as I loved those things, I was far more disturbed that Preston seemed to have demolished a good three-fourths of its history. ‘Such and such was here, but it’s been torn down.’ ‘Such and such was here, oh, but that’s been torn down too.’ I know it’s for the better of the modern city, but it’s worse for those of us who want to see and touch history as it was. I just felt so disconnected from Mormon culture and the enjoyment of Mormon stories and communities.

“I know Miles Standish wasn’t Mormon, but it seems now that finding out he may have been from Chorley, rather than the Isle of Man gave me the link I deemed necessary to make this trip personal and insightful. God has everything in mind, doesn’t he?”

(Click on the picture to load the correct size version--and to read the text.)

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