The tower of an ancient church stood up in golden sunshine. Before it and beyond it rolled fields of brilliant green, crossed by hedgerows and accented by occasional trees. Stretching out in front of the church was a small village of solid stone houses.
How old was that church? How old were those houses? How long had farmers tilled the fields around them? How long had this architecture -- this village -- stood in this rural part of England?
The answers were impossible for a foreigner to immediately learn as the train from Scotland rolled smoothly and rapidly southward on its journey to London -- on the Sunday after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.
A few similar villages stood along the route: Solid old houses, towering churches, surrounding fields of green. Even the cities -- where the fields were no longer seen -- gave evidence of a similar pattern: houses, churches and places to produce.
All over America, too, stand towns and cities that may not be as ancient, but that reflect in their design the same essential roots: Family, faith and work.
Who should rule such places?
Should a parliament in London rule a village -- or a city -- in Pennsylvania? Should it govern states in the Midwest? The people of California and Oregon?
In the United States of America, the people decided 240 years ago that the British parliament did not and could not represent them. It taxed them without representation. It tried to control their economic activities. It trampled on their liberty.
So we declared our independence.
Two days before the Brexit vote, a commercial jet took off from Heathrow heading north for Edinburgh. Not long into that short journey, the plane steered to the west. Out the windows to the east, the presumed reason could be seen: a massive bank of fierce-looking clouds rising high into the heavens.
As the plane gained altitude, it bounced through the extended arms of that still gathering storm. Passengers gripped their armrests and grimaced -- and prayed. In a few moments, the plane was above the clouds, streaming peacefully through clear skies, still on its way to Scotland.
In parts of southern England, the news channels reported the next day, a massive amount of rain was falling and streets were flooding. But people still went out to vote on Thursday.
"The turnout was high at 72 percent with more people turning out to vote than in last year's general election," reported the BBC.
A majority of them wanted to declare their independence from a European Union that over the years has gathered in more nations and accumulated more power over what used to be those nation's sovereign affairs.
The people of the United Kingdom voted to retain one of their greatest traditions: the right to govern themselves.
Many critics of the U.K.'s vote to leave the EU have argued that the U.K. will pay an economic price for what the majority of its people have freely chosen to do. Perhaps. But it may be much like the price that that airliner paid for changing course to avoid the center of a massive cloud formation. It hit some short-term turbulence on the way to smoother skies -- and found a place where the aircraft's crew, and not external forces, would control its path and destiny.
The ultimate freedom and prosperity of the West -- including in the United States -- is dependent on recognizing, turning back toward and governing itself in a way that preserves and protects the inalienable rights that God has given all human beings.
The United Kingdom last week took a turn away from the centralization of government power. On the Sunday after that vote, a bright sun was shining on its heartland.