Last week, we explored our need to intentionally carve out “island time” in our daily routines. Ironically, I spent a couple of days this past week working at my company’s office in the middle of downtown Washington, D.C. Are there two more drastically opposite settings than Maui and our nation’s capital?
Even though I have a passion for exploring mountain ranges and hidden gems, I am fascinated by cities – the architecture, the flurry of activity, the mom & pop cafes, the endless aromas of coffee and baked goods. Something is constantly happening on practically every street corner.
Cities develop a life of their own because of the people who indwell them. Some live in D.C. because they are interning at a government office. Others are drawn by the steady work. Many have transitioned to the area because they believe in a particular cause and are working to create change in government. And quite a few seek the power and prestige of higher positions. No matter the reason, the pace of life in D.C. is frantic, to say the least.
Simplicity seems like a concept foreign to the impatient drivers, whose honking horns continuously reverberate off the sides of the surrounding office buildings. You have to work a bit harder to uncover simplicity, but it’s there. I sat outside at a small cafe with my coworkers, sipping coffee and eating breakfast with the glow of the morning sun peaking through the surrounding office buildings. We had a loose schedule to keep that morning. So, along with breakfast, we took in the sights of people rushing to work, their ears stuffed with white ear buds as they tried to escape the outside world for the one on their iPods and cell phones.
The day before, our group took a leisurely walk over to the National Mall, stopping by both the World War II and Lincoln Memorials. The fountain at the World War II Memorial offers a pleasant respite from the rush hour traffic a mere fifty yards away; the impressive plaza provides a small glimpse into the sacrifices made 70 years ago.
And the towering Lincoln Memorial never ceases to impress. Even though I have been to the site a handful of times, I had never taken the 360 degree walk around the structure until Monday. As the sun faded to the west, its rays beamed through the columns along the backside of the monument, reflecting off the white marble stone and peering through the massive, white columns.
A certain peace, resolve, and strength exists within the chamber and around the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. Our group sat near the top of the steps and gazed out over the reflecting pool. We were no longer in the bustling city, but in a moment of awe and reflection over the history of our nation.
Sometimes, our hearts are simply crying out for the oasis in the midst of the city, those spots where we can be still, reflect, and recharage. Our part is to intentionally slow down long enough to find them.