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What we did yesterday

Yesterday, we visited some friends of ours in Arlington and decided to stop in D.C. on the way home to visit one of the places we haven't been to yet. Yes, we've lived in the D.C. Metro area a little over a year and been to several sights in the U.S. Capitol, but, sheesh, there's a wealth of places we haven't yet seen. This time, we went to the Jefferson Memorial. Thomas Jefferson was the U.S.'s third president, the principle drafter of this country's Declaration of Independence and one of this country's founding members.

What fascinates me about the man is not just that he was a writer but that he was so young when he embarked on the road that made him legend. He was only 33 years old when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. Amazing. He went on to became secretary of state to America's first president George Washington, the vice president to the second president John Adams and, in his late 50s became president himself.

I regret we didn't bring the camera (these are cell phone pics) because the place was a beautiful piece of art (according to Wikipedia, it was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome) and a thought-provoking insight into what was in the thoughts of one of those who formed some amazing ideas. Jefferson's 19 foot statue (weighing 5 tons) is surrounded by columns and sections of wall (on which are quotes from his writings) open to the outside breezes and air. Beautiful architechure. Beautiful art. Beautiful ideas. It's amazing when those things combine.

While the site is immense and striking, I found myself pondering the extraordinary ordinariness of us all. When you live in the shadow of this city, it doesn't take long to sink in that "great figures" (past and present) are really only human--in both their failings and their nobleness. We are all amazingly similar, creatures created in the image of God, with pulls toward nobleness that echo from our creation in his image as well as the bent towards selfishness and pride. Jefferson rejected orthodox Christianity (he's famous for his Jefferson Bible) in favor of his own version of spirituality, yet I still easily find deafening echoes of God's truth in his some of his work. If God is who he says (and Paul's right and God is indeed emblazoned around us), then that shouldn't be surprising. But it still takes my breath away when one of us puts pen to paper, thought to word, and truth to action--not so much because of those words or acts themselves but because those words and acts remind me of what beckons all of us: a call to work and walk with God to bring Light, Love and Right-ness.

(Images: from my cell phone)


Anonymous said…
Carmen: Great post. I still remember visiting DC when I was 12. I stood in the Jefferson Memorial and was blown away. My thoughts at 12 were not nearly so profound as yours, but I do remember being struck by God's power to use anyone, regardless of who they are, to accomplish great things and I hoped that maybe one day, He would use me too.
Cell phone pics? I never woulda guessed. Awesome.

I've only been to D.C. once -- in 2000 -- and wish I could have stayed longer. While I WAS there, though, I had a repeated sense of somehow being outside of myself, outside of time, and too small to matter much to the flow of time -- being, as I was, in the presence of so much history.
Carmen Andres said…
heh, i tell my kids everytime we visit one of the monuments or sites to remember how lucky they are to live in this area. i feel it everytime i even drive through it. my european bloggy friends probably laugh at this, but i too feel that smallness in the expanse of history when i walk through those areas.
Carie said…
I found your blog through a search for Austen's "Persuasion." I live in Texas, but we lived in DC for 5 years and for 4 years in Yorktown. I enjoyed VA. I love your blog and photographs about this trip to DC. I personally love the Lincoln Monument because Lincoln was such a Godly man. Thanks for sharing!