Room with a View

If there was ever a fast and cheap way to go from point A to point B then I would love to get back to Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden Wales. I know that some would say, why a library? We envision a place filled with old, musty smelling books and racks of National Geographic magazines dating back into the early 1950’s. Libraries are supposed to be quiet and I’m sure many of us at one time or another were faced with a librarian wearing those glasses on her nose with the prerequisite chain around her neck to keep them near. With that squinty kind of look and their finger up to the mouth making that “shuhh” sound. In an age where we have Kindle’s and iPads, where getting a book is as simple as a few clicks on a mouse for a download, it almost seems quaint and old fashioned to be going to a library. But Gladstone’s, although a library it is also a place of where one can engage in learning through interaction with others. Founded by one of Queen Victoria’s Prime Minister’s, William Gladstone, the library is a testament to his desire to create a place where ideas are discussed, shared and hopefully will help change the world. It is truly a place the embodies the spirit of the ancient Greek Polis, where philosophers and others would gather to teach, learn and debate the very nature of humanity. Not only can one spend hours perusing the stacks of books but it is also a residential library where you can stay, enjoy wonderful food and even have tea and a fresh scone in the afternoons. In the interest of being a place where ideas are exchanged, there are times when they will have an author in residence, someone who is either in the midst of researching for a book or have just completed one and are willing to discuss what they have done. It was during my last sabbatical that my wife and I stayed at the library. We partook of the fine food, and enjoyed the quiet and space given to enjoy reading and writing. We engaged in good conversation with others in front of a large fireplace in the main parlor and enjoyed attending the daily morning service in the chapel. Not once did we miss not having a television blaring out at us, it was truly a retreat for the mind and the soul. It was also here that I began to renew my own interest in writing, of getting back to putting words on paper and seeing where it would take me. Although I am at heart an introvert and one who can over process any thought or idea, my stay at Gladstone’s has helped me to push myself a bit more, which is where I am today. Someday, I hope to return to this wonderful place, in fact, since I am an Episcopal priest, I am seeking to serve there as chaplain for several months, while doing my own research and writing. Who knows, maybe there is a book somewhere inside that will come to fruition while I enjoy the peace of this very special library.


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