I arrived in Fairfax, VA on Saturday at my alumnae sponsor Ellen’s townhouse in time for a late dinner. She was kind enough to hold it for me when I got caught in a little traffic jam and we enjoyed some chicken, rice and salad along with some nice white wine while we discussed the following morning’s commuting plans. Since St.John’s Lafayette Square is located across the street from the White House, it’s also located across the street from the Hay-Adams where the Obama’s are staying so the entire block is closed off. Luckily the church has valet parking for the 11:00 am service so we planned on getting there for that a little early with her mom.
My room is beautiful with a cozy daybed and pink walls, plenty of closet space, a dresser and my own private bathroom. There’s even a pull out trundle bed if I have a guest visit. I quickly unpacked, put out my pictures of my daughter and Tucker along with my new Tinkerbell snowglobe and my Tow Mater plush toy. There’s wireless internet access and a comfy basement living room with TV and couches. Ellen is great company and such an interesting person. It makes it easier to come to a new city when you have a welcoming face and such a wonderful hostess.
On Sunday I attended my first service at the church, and it REALLY IS right across from the White House. I mean, I think I was imagining it a little farther away. But it’s pretty darn close. It’s overcast today, but I will post pictures on Wednesday or Thursday when it’s sunny. I want to get some pics of the stained glass in the church then too. The entire block is locked down, the area crawling with cameras, secret service, police and dogs. I was in the bathroom and looked out the window to see men on the roof of nearby buildings. I was worried they could see me but I think they probably aren’t interested. The service Sunday was celebrating the Epiphany and the liturgy allowed a little procession of people dressed as the three kings to approach the altar with offerings at the presentation. They even broke out the incense which delighted me of course. One of my favorite smells. I heard the Reverend Lisa Saunders give a wonderful sermon. It was about the journey to Epiphany and it had many access points for people to find meaning for themselves. I found my own meaning in the journey of the kings leaving all they knew and loved behind to follow the will of God in my current life. I took communion from The Reverend Luis Leon and met him after the service. I will likely spend more time with him tomorrow.
I then visited the National Cathedral and took some pictures with my fabulous new camera. Check it out:
Following that I was invited to join Ellen and her mother at her home in the Georgetown area for dinner. We enjoyed a hearty veal stew, a delicious Beaujolais and some fresh strawberries for dessert. Her mother shared some of the history of the church with me and talked about being on the search committee to call the current rector and what it was like to attend some of the previous inaugural events with the Reagan and Bush families. She was the head of the altar guild the year the church dedicated the George H.W. Bush kneeler so she showed me the picture of that moment. Pretty neat.
Today I met with Lisa and we talked about me immediately helping with a print piece for the Young Adult fellowship group they have here for 20’s and 30’s called the Latrobe Fellowship, named for the architect of the church and the White House. I also assisted at the 12:10 Eucharist. This consisted of the Old Testament reading which today was Joshua 1:1-9 and collecting the offering, as well as chalicing. How awesome is it to be where I can take Eucharist/worship daily while at work? This is what kept going through my mind as I was preparing for the service. How wonderful my life is at this moment that as part of my job that I am getting to worship God. I can’t express how joyful that is. I try to live my life as if it is a prayer anyway, but to get to take specific time to worship in this way is very meaningful. The Eucharist is especially resonant for me. The Gospel reading today was from John 15:1-11 and was about the metaphor of the vine. Not too long ago, while praying over a troubling issue, God simply gave me a kind of word sense…it was “abide, abide in me”. That was all. So I just kept repeating that to myself as things got harder or upsetting and it helped. I found myself reciting the first verse of the song of Isaiah:
Surely it is God who saves me;
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
And he will be my Savior.
So it was interesting to hear that verse today. Reminded me of that moment.
Just back from having a spot of tea down the street at a place called Teaism. I only had a ginger scone and some tea but it was very filling and the music was soothing and reflective. It’s eerie walking down H street past the police cars littering the park and all the barricades. There are so few people on the street that you feel like there is a target on your back. I feel like putting my hands up saying…just an intern at the church! Studying to be a priest…nothing to see here! It’s pretty cold too so it makes you hunch over when you walk and shrink down into your jacket, walking fast, letting your scarf ride up to cover your nose in a feeble effort to block the wind. It’s a surreal moment. I see people hanging about out in front of the church, cameras stationed there, presumably from news outlets. Reverend Saunders said that the Reverend Leon might want me to help at the early service on Sunday, which is too exciting. The more opportunities to be at the altar the better of course. But especially in a different setting, learning from someone new and feeling the energy of God here.
Plus I found out that the new Associate Rector for St.John’s in Roanoke is in DC so I can probably meet her in advance! Not only that but my friend Jennifer from Roanoke is gonna’ be here tomorrow and the next day so we can probably catch a meal together. What a strange and wonderful life.