Monday, May 18, 2015

Sunday: Stonehenge and Bath

Because London is a beautiful, bustling city, several people commute to the city during the weekend. We noticed a major increase in the number of people who were in the city over the weekend. Our intuitive professors realized this and decided that it would be wise to get out of the city for the weekend. We ended up driving west of London into the country. Our first stop was Stonehenge.
Stonehenge is a little bit like the "Eighth Wonder of the World." In case your memory is struggling remembering what Stonehenge looks like, it's basically a pile of rocks in the middle of nowhere. It sounds pretty demeaning, but let's be real. We went and visited some rocks. The story behind the rocks is really intriguing.
The rocks that form Stonehenge are actually from over 100 kilometers away. We can date the rocks back to pre-Roman empire times. Nobody really knows how the rocks got there or why they are there. Some say it was aliens. Some say it was the Normans. Others think that this was a place of worship. I'm going to go with the last theory. There are several "burroughs" that surround Stonehenge. These burrows are actually little round grave sites. The remains of bodies were found in them. Also, 56 holes were found right around Stonehenge. It was originally thought to be for totems, but they found cremated remains in the bottom of the holes. I think this site started as a burial site and turned into a place of worship. The rocks form a sort of double outer circle layer and then a horseshoe inner circle layer. The way the rocks align make it so the sun will shine straight through the middle and to the other side on the summer and winter solstices. I think this was extremely intentional.
What I explained is just the extremely short version of what Stonehenge is all about. Several movies have included Stonehenge in the background. Novels also often highlight Stonehenge. We have no clue what it really was or what the purpose of the stones was. We flock to it because it puzzles us. I am thoroughly puzzled and I have another thing to add to "my list of things to ask Jesus when I get to heaven."
After we left Stonehenge, we went to the little town of Bath. Bath is the home of the Roman Baths (I will explain them in a second). Originally, sick and rich people would flock to Bath so they could go to the Roman Baths. It was said that bathing in or drinking the water of the baths would heal a person or give them good fortune. Eventually they figured out that this was a bunch of hogwash and the town became very sleepy. Then in the 1700's, it became very popular again because the rich would take vacations there. It became the center of wealthy people on holiday gambling and poor people trying to get in with the rich people. Now it's a very tourist oriented town. The Roman Baths are at the center of the small city and several little shops surround the square. People now come to Bath to visit the Roman Baths and to do a little bit of souvenir shopping. I personally enjoyed the ice cream shop.
The Roman Baths are so popular and unique because the structure of the building and the spring that sources the baths are so unique. The spring that give the baths water is one of the last and the biggest hot springs in the UK. The water is about 41 degrees (Celsius), so it is warm to the touch. Also, the gases that come from the spring make the water looks like it is bubbling. It's like a natural hot tub! The water is extremely mineral rich and pure, so that's why people thought it was healing or brought good fortune. Unfortunately, the water is nasty. We tried some - it was warm and it tasted like copper. EW.
Another innovation of the baths was the structure of the bathhouse. The Romans thought of everything. They had a room where you could get a nice massage. They had a certain room for the King to bathe. There was even a drainage system under the structure that let water in and out of the baths - like a drain with a plug in a bathtub! Everything was brightly colored and ornate. The Romans thought of this way back before running water and electricity, which makes the Roman Baths quite remarkable (even if the water is actually really NASTY).
I'm really glad we got to take a day outside of London. Sometimes it's hard to remember that London isn't all of England. I don't think it was a coincidence that we went on a Sunday. I didn't get to go to my Hillsong service (see my earlier blog), but I really got to experience what I would suggest was spiritual in itself. Stonehenge is a mystery and the Roman Baths were centuries ahead of their time. Both of these sites have essences of worship of a deity in them. As I traversed down the countryside of England, I really couldn't be more inspired. I can't even explain the marvel I found in our trip out of the city. I found this trip refreshing and I would recommend leaving London to anybody who comes to visit. Sometimes it's good to get a bit of perspective.
This is a picture of our group at Stonehenge! Represent CSC!

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