I flew back to LA yesterday from Heathrow, my week in Oxford having been completed.

In my mind, I divided the trip into segments, so as to mark progress along the way instead of pulsating with the ungodly thought that all told I was going to spend 18 hours or so in transit.

There was the walk along the canal in Oxford to the Gloucester Green bus station, the bus ride to Heathrow, the journey through security (short in time but long in anxiety), the very long walk to the United Club (I get two annual passes through my Visa card–they had tons of actual food, drink and appropriate electrical outlets!), the trip to the gate and onto the plane (ditto Segment 2), the 10 1/2 hour flight home, and the Flyaway Bus to downtown’s Union Station.

We left at 2:10 pm and arrived at 4:40 pm the same day which just seems weird. But as we made our descent it was so lovely to look out the window and see a deep blue, cloud-studded afternoon sky (it would have been midnight in Oxford).

England is all green and sort of empty and LA is all brown and sort of, to put it mildly, full.

And I must say I do not hold with the notion that it is somehow deeper or more evolved to love the one and despise the other. 

In fact, my heart soared with joy as I looked down and made out the smog, traffic-clogged 405, and endless grids of what look from the air like cookie-cutter houses.

I love quiet and woods and green and lanes and little shops, and I also love the whole mad, improbable, teeming beehive of Los Angeles.

Not that the place doesn’t often drive me crazy. But to live richly and fully and sanely in LA is to be equal to a great and ongoing challenge. You learn to find beauty, and rest, and solace in what might to the uninitiated, or to the mentally and emotionally lazy, appear to be a wasteland.

As it was, I marveled at the golden chain trees I’d never noticed before that somehow manage to thrive at the downtown interchange of the 10 and the 110, which is not exactly the spot you’d expect a tree of any kind to be able to survive more than about 10 seconds.

I love the unpacking, sweeping up, organizing watering plants, catching up on administrative tasks, opening mail and all the rest that comes from returning home from a trip.

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

“Arise, then, beloved of Christ!” says St. Bonaventure in the Second Reading of the Office. “Imitate the dove that nests in a hole in the cliff, keeping watch at the entrance like the sparrow that finds a home.”

I was at 8:15 Mass at St. Andrew’s.


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