I left my old job on Thursday. So Friday I was free to wander the city. Have you ever had one of those days? I left the house with no real plan or destination, so I meandered the sidewalks of DC.
I started with lunch at 2:30. Pizza. Delicious. It was fun to idle time in the restaurant, picking up random conversations among other day-time loafers. I thought of my former coworkers at their desks. I missed them, but I did not miss going to work.
After lunch I picked up books on hold at the library. The Mt. Pleasant branch is a striking classical building, whose entrance is tucked away on the side. You go up what feels like a secret staircase to an interior door.
From the library it was natural to walk a few blocks over to Mt. Pleasant Road. I ambled down the main strip toward 16th Street and then continued south along 17th Street. I stopped to take pictures of odd signs or interesting windows, whatever caught my eye or invited me to linger.
I noticed several expressions of devotion, besides churches. There was a framed picture of the Virgin Mary stacked on a market shelf with a coffee pot and cheese grater. Outside a senior center I saw a sculpture of a person with arms raised in resurrection-like celebration. The Potters House looked closed, but its painted candle still burns alongside the stencil quote from the Bible.
I forget how saturated a “secular” city can be with signs of faith. Most of my friends are not religious, which is probably true for most Washingtonians. Do those signs and statues offend them, or do they overlook them like I often do? I wonder what token or expression of spirituality would cause my friends to notice and be moved. I don’t mean converted or convinced. I just mean a positive impression, like making them smile or think or feel love. Maybe some image or thought would stick with somebody long enough to earn a place in their mental curio cabinet.
Then I think, Jesus Jeremy, you’re the expression of devotion. It’s your words or actions, small but interesting, that catch someone’s eye and invite them to linger. What inside me is as beautiful or quizzical as that storefront sign? I’ve been exploring the city, but here is an invitation to search within.