Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The return to Bristol

Over the past three days, Linda and I have been back in Bristol. It was the longest visit I'd made since leaving Bristol at the end of my year on Relay more than four years ago.

It was excellent to see several ex-university friends from Bristol days over our time there: Andy and Hannah, Howard and Kate, Jonny and Charlotte, Phil and Gemma, Tim, Kevin, Dan, Dave and Mike. Add Dan and Emily, and Gareth, who we saw last week and we've managed to see quite a number of folks (although, as ever, there's others that we'd love to see if time and opportunity permitted). It's encouraging to see people who were radical Christians as students still seeking to live radically in a whole range of different situations - in local churches, in the workplace, in thinking about going abroad and, for some, even as UCCF staff workers!

A few things struck me whilst back in Bristol.

Firstly - it's really weird walking around a place that's so familiar yet also so unfamiliar. In certain parts of Clifton, nearly every pace of each street had a memory attached to it. Yet I also had a strange sensation of life really having moved on. A return to church was strangely familiar and strangely unfamiliar.

Secondly - a feeling of culture shock. Life in the north of England is really different from life in the south, especially amongst graduates. The pace of life is different, people's hopes and aspirations are different and there's a different feel about the place.

Thirdly - it's good for us to be away from Bristol. Linda and I both had an excellent time during our Bristol years: for both of us, they rank as amongst the happiest years of our lives. It's sometimes tempting to long for the nostalgia of years past. Yet on our most recent trip, we both independently realised that Bristol is not where God wants us. We're called to pastures new.


Dave K said...

I know what you mean by every single one of those. Well put.

So do you feel you're a northerner now?

peterdray said...

Well I get fed up with all the news coverage about things in London and I guess I feel happier in more northern surroundings. Man, I suppose I do. (Gulp).