I will miss… our faith community, Roots DC, which will take another blog post entirely to do it justice.
I will miss… the constant inspiration of passionate people making tremendous sacrifices to stand up for, and speak out on a variety of social justice issues. They have inspired me to strive to be a bold kingdom-builder on whatever path God leads me down.
I will miss… museums! I have made a point of taking advantage of DC’s many incredible and mostly free (if you don’t have Dutch blood you may not realize the extent to which the free part is thrilling for me) grand architectural structures that house so many fascinating historical treasures. I estimate that I spent approximately half a day every week (government shutdown not-withstanding) exploring museums. I can’t imagine having had a better way to satisfy my rumbling hunger for art, history and understanding the natural world.
I will miss…getting to explore some of the lesser-known, random, off-the-beaten-path though quite spectacular historical homes, structures and sites.
I will miss… breathtaking mountainous hikes just a short drive West and a refreshing swim in the Atlantic Ocean just a short drive East.
I will miss… hopping on the bus and being the only Caucasian while hearing half a dozen different languages.
I will miss… authentic ethnic restaurants representing nearly every culture on the planet.
I will miss… architecture that is eye candy. The carefully-crafted artisan-chiseled buildings steal the show on every street and produce uncontrollable urges to snap [too many] photos.
I will miss… my kids being under the leadership of, looking up to, and having great admiration for their strong, intelligent and loving African American teachers and school administrators. I’ve come to see this as a piece of the more important, subtle and unofficial educational experience they have received.
I will miss… Trader Joe’s. It hardly needs to be said.
I will miss… my sweeter than sweet potato pie southern friends. Mint Juleps, seriously y’all.
I will miss… the kids having exposure to glimpses of how difficult life is for many who live within the realities of poverty, as experienced by some of their classmates, despite the best efforts of their hard-working parents. I pray they are at an informative enough age to never forget and fall prey to uninformed naive stereotypes about people living under the tremendous burden of poverty, some of whom are dependent on government assistance despite their best efforts.
I will miss… being able to take my daily walk one day past monuments, another day through historic neighborhoods, and the next day along the river and through the woods of Rock Creek National Park (which is just a block from our house).
I will miss… fancy parties and events one evening, casual neighborhood backyard barbecues the next, and late nights sipping wine, bourbon or tea on the front porch with whomever happens along.
I will miss…being around dozens of different expressions of the Christian faith – a wonderful reminder of the vast creativity and reach of the God I serve. There are so many faith expressions different from from my own which are as equally sincere and as equally steeped in culture and tradition.
I will miss… day trips to historic sites such as the Civil War battlefields, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and so on and so forth.
I will miss… the mild Winters, early Springs and a FULL THREE MONTHS of spectacular Autumn glory.
I will miss… public transportation – bus, metro, bike share – that will get you nearly anywhere fairly efficiently.
I will miss… living in community with possibly the greatest neighbors on the planet (see my Facebook album, “In Defense of a Great Neighborhood.”). It truly does take a village to raise a child and there couldn’t be a more accurate a description of the way our DC neighborhood functioned.
I will miss… the energy of the noisy barrage of neighborhood/school kids that frequently filled our house after school, on weekends, etc. I love these kids and will miss the way their laughter and craziness brought vibrancy and life to our home.
I will miss… the opportunity to offer hospitality to multitudes. This proved one of the most satisfying aspects of being in DC for me. We were blessed to have found a sweet deal (by DC standards) on a house with an attic that had been transformed into extra bedrooms and a bathroom. With intentionality, we made the decision to openly receive anyone who needed a place to stay. As word spread, we began to have a constant stream of people in and out all the time- friends, family, Facebook friends, friends of friends, strangers, interns, people in transition, tourists who couldn’t afford DC lodging, groups who came for conferences, others who came to lobby or advocate on the Hill, and the list goes on. Through this, I came to realize a certain knack for hospitality and a hunger for all kinds of people from all kinds of places with all kinds of stories to tell and who were in town as a result of all kinds of passions, and purposes.
I will miss… being able to have lunch with an individual working hard to advance the Republican Party and, in the same day, dinner with one fighting for Democrat principles. Seeing good will in both, and sensing short-sightedness in both…. and wishing for all the world that Republicans would frequently sit down and share a meal with Democrats and for each to come to realize the humanity of the other. That they would open themselves up to a posture of listening and a willingness to learn, and to foster an empathy that opens them up to understanding why the other believes as they do. That they would be willing to obey Jesus’ most basic command to love the enemy, and recognize the image if God in him/her or in the very least, to follow the Golden Rule.
This experience has given me resolve to be part of putting an end to the highly toxic (and grossly uninformed) demonizing of one another, for in the very acts of demonizing I suspect we feed the very devil we claim the other is.
I will miss… similar to the aforementioned, the somewhat unique position I was given of having a foot in two vastly different worlds, and the enlightening perspective it gifted me with. Two very different sets of people groups introduced me and welcomed me into their polar opposite circles. One, into circles of wealth and power and the other, into circles of poverty and struggle. I felt comfortable and found myself moving easily within each of them despite their differences. This experience shattered my stereotypes of both groups while awakening me to realities and struggles they each face. Having this unique opportunity offered me a glimpse of the redemptive potential of simple understanding (as with the aforementioned partisan divide), and has equipped me with determination to encourage people to expand their circles, stop the constant blaming of the other, become actually informed instead of reiterating ridiculous, often-untrue talking points about the other – frequently constructed with the intention of creating deeper division – and to take ownership for their part in the problems of this world. Only then will we be able to even begin to move forward.
This has been fuel for my passion of gathering diverse people around a table in order to break bread together, to gaze into the image of God and learn to hear one another as well as to know the life experiences that have crafted each one’s worldview.
I don’t know for certain what my future holds, but I am certain these experiences will shape future involvement in some kind of political and/or social-economic bridge-building venture.
All that said…it is worth briefly mentioning a few things I will not miss about life in DC…
- Rush hour traffic – enough said
- Tourist-season traffic – enough said
- Parallel parking – enough said
- Oppressive summer heat and humidity – enough said
- An impossibly high cost of living – there actually is a lot I’d like to say here, but I’ll save it for another post. So enough said, for now.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on what I’ve learned about myself and the world during my time here.