Returning, Again, to My Ancestral Haunts



York Minster


After bidding farewell to the other members of our tour, my wife and I and our neighbors, the Flacks, picked up our rental car and drove northward to York.  It’s a long way, and we had to pass up lots of things I would like to have visited (e.g., Leicester, Bosworth Field, Sherwood Forest, and etc.), but I’m very fond of York, and the destination is worth the drive.


We lost no time, once we had arrived at the city, in finding our hotel (the Hampton Inn, just inside the medieval Micklegate) and then heading off, afoot, to the York Minster, the enormous and magnificent medieval cathedral that is this city’s chief (but not its only) glory.  After wandering around, admiring the building and taking in a display of medieval stained glass (on the theme of the Revelation of John) that is being cleaned and restored for the cathedral’s Great East Window, we joined in an evensong service in the cathedral’s choir.


The choir stalls of York Minster


Exiting the cathedral afterwards, we paused (just as we did slightly more than a year ago) by the statue of Constantine the Great that commemorates his acclamation as Roman emperor, which occurred on or near the site of the later medieval cathedral, in AD 306.


A statue of Constantine sits immediately adjacent to the York Minster.


Then we strolled through the streets and along the walls of this still-recognizably-medieval city, including the famous area still called The Shambles, the once famously disorderly and probably unhygienic butchers’ quarter of the old city after which my office has been (or, anyway, should have been) named.


The Shambles, today


To finish the day off, we had a wonderful meal of Spanish tapas in a restaurant on Back Swinegate Street called La Tasca.  It was superb, and I recommend the restaurant highly.


I’m in a much better position during this visit than I was while I was here a year ago.  At that time, after nearly three decades of innocent academic bliss, I had just been clobbered by many years of accumulated university politics — and had not yet been able to get back to the States to find out exactly what was going on or how extensive the damage was going to be — and I was still reeling from my brother’s sudden death three months before.  The pain of his passing, though I feel it acutely and daily still, has been dulled slightly by the passage of time, and the success of The Interpreter Foundation, coupled with some exciting new prospects that have come my way over the past few months, suggests a potentially very bright future, both for me personally and, more importantly, for things that I care deeply about.  Nothing’s certain yet, and I haven’t made final decisions, but the possibilities are both daunting and exhilarating.   “Weeping may endure for a night,” says the Psalmist (30:5), “but joy cometh in the morning.”  Or, on a rather less exalted note:  “Living well is the best revenge.”


Posted from York, England



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