I have always maintained that my favorite thing about Washington D.C. is the public space: hallowed, holy, set aside for all. It is that demarcation which makes this nation great, the “our’s” we which identify, recognize and choose to hold in trust together.
This was a busy week, Holy Week. Children were out of school, many parents released from work, our electorate at recess as well. But the crowds wandering and the spaces devoid of business as usual did not lessen that sense of space sacred.
We took elementary and senior high students alike. Most did not read every marker, some tried. Most did not catch the significance of every symbol, some had eyes more able. Most did not regularly know, name or number the heritage of those swarming about as were we. But, all of them experienced that space. I watched them take it in, their eyes stretched down far horizons, their necks craned to capture heights, the breath within them held tighter and longer than their chests’ regular rise.
I watched them experience people, not at war, in shopping malls and upon green malls alike, people whose ideas might be, but whose bodies recognized better angels indeed. I watched them make friends with folks who hold ideals they might (unknowingly) besmirch in yet unlearned jest. And I watched shared humanity water the seeds of humility and understanding.
I watched our kids stretch out their hands to veterans on perhaps their last trips and to vendors not long among us. I watched them laugh with others in lines, and more remarkably, remain in love’s sway with their sibling like companions.
Washington is a city of compromise and sometimes compassion, a place where we can all sense the riches of the trust we have been afforded.
Above all, it seems to me, a city of hope.