Today marks the exciting milestone of one full week in London.
It has been a constantly moving kaleidoscope of new faces, historic places, green parks, landmarks, Shakespeare, and sentences that don't always end in rhyme.
Over the course of seven (well, technically eight, or seven-and-a-half, counting the first Sunday) days, I have soaked in the beauty of London's parks and gardens, revelled in the historicity of the city, stood in the very hall Twelfth Night was performed in by Shakespeare's company four centuries ago, walked along Chancery Lane, squinted studiously at portraits of the dead and great Tudors, accidentally followed a girl in my building into her flat, danced for three hours on a boat along the Thames with complete strangers, and climbed on a jungle gym only allowed for children under 11 years old while judging parents looked on. I have been to see one spectacular performance of Macbeth at the Globe Theatre, during which I felt I was a part of the play myself, and I have also been to see Despicable Me 2 at the Odeon at Marble Arch. I laughed much more than I expected to at the former, and I teared up at the end of the latter. I have explained in class why I think portrayals of Lady Macbeth that show her as vulnerable are better, and I have listened as others disagreed with me. I've been to more pubs than I've ever been to in my life, and I have learned all over again what an exhilarating and broadening experience it is to meet people from all around the world, and to have talks with them that are peppered with foreign slang and exclamations of wonder and delight as each person contributes different coloured pieces of their home countries into the mosaic of our conversation.
And it's only been one week.
Yesterday, I met up with an old friend, whom I met for the first and last time on a single day in Korea four years ago when he was travelling around East Asia and a mutual friend connected us, asking me to show him around Seoul (and who might be reading this right now). He told me that since we first/last met, he had become a Christian, and shared with me his crazy, beautiful, inexpressibly encouraging testimony. We then talked for a while about our churches, our ways of ministering to others, our blessings, and our struggles. I mentioned how I felt it to be challenging being away from my Christ-centred community, even after just one week, and how unused to it I was. "All of a sudden I am constantly surrounded by and only interacting with people who don't know Christ," I told him.
"What an opportunity!" he replied.
How right he is, and how I hope that I may not waste it. His three words have lodged in my head over the past twenty-four hours, and I will take them to be the mantra of my remaining five weeks (only five?) here. In more ways than one, what an opportunity it is to be here. An opportunity to learn, grow, absorb, discover and re-discover. But of course and above all, in the way he meant it: to share the love of Christ with the people I meet here and be a light for him in this city.
And now: Shakespeare calls.