Our family’s 2009 sabbatical included a mid-July trip to Oxford, England, and the famed University of Oxford; but our visit to the world’s oldest English-speaking college (circa 1096) was tinged with frustration: the hallowed halls of the once academic home of C.S. Lewis were closed to us. Maybe it was because of summer and University inactivity, but among other disappointments, we couldn’t tour the great Bodleian Library; we only stared at it from the outside.
We did, however, have one hope of getting inside the institution. There was a portico along one street, with an open doorway where passersby could see into a grassy, quad-like area, apparently the interior of an Oxford college. Just to walk about briefly through an Oxford quad would complete the visit for me.
But did I mention the English security guard at the portico…and next to him, before the doorway, a velvet rope, hanging in a U between two standing poles, and barring my entrance into history?
No problem – I thought – just a brief, friendly conversation with the security man, and I’m sure he would let such a nice American family into the area for a quick peek. I approached him with a warm greeting. But…I hadn’t considered our youngest, Annie Grace. At 8 years of age, she had a mind of her own, and I had neglected to inform her of my careful plan.
While I was beginning my entreaty, Annie came from behind, marched boldly up to the velvet rope, swung it up and over her head, and continued striding in.
The rest of the Knowlton clan could only stand behind with mouths agape. And the security guard…like any good and proper Englishman…was aghast.
As you might imagine, only Annie saw any of the interior quad that day, and not that much before we could call her back.
Boldly striding forward, our Annie Grace turned 18 last Sunday.
Life with Annie…
So free, so joyous. So full of life. So much of a delight to all who know her.
Diane came to bed late Sunday (birthday) night, around 1 am, (Monday morning I suppose). Turns out she and Annie had been up discussing all manner of things, including the future. Well, whatever my daughter does in years to come, she’s got a lot to offer a needy world.
For instance, her innate creativity. It’s something to behold. (Just enjoy a game of “would you rather” with her, and you will see what I mean). Or look at her drawings and paintings…where she combines a minute attention to detail with artistic vision and flair, producing works that make me (yes, yes, I know, I’m her dad) wonder.
And then there is her empathy. The second commandment shines through in Annie’s faith. The least of these are the most to her.
So as Annie spins into the future and her high school senior year, she and I are grabbing lunches on Sunday after church, a time that worked for both of us. She’s busier than me nowadays – has been working full time this summer, and this fall will only get busier with school, piano, drama, dance, and even a boy. Yes, she’s got a boyfriend as of this summer, who seems like a great guy…so far.
I’m watching you, Zach.
Anyway…Happy 18th Birthday, sweet Annie Grace.
Keep swinging past the ropes.