Friday, March 13, 2015

A Winter Visit to Washington, D.C.

Pictured above is the skyline of Washington, DC, and in the foreground is the Potomac River, under snow and ice.  Thursday, the day after John and I arrived in the city, it snowed about 4 0r 5 inches.  Expectation was 10 inches, so the city closed down for the day.  Our son Dan and his wife Amanda did not have to go to work, that was good as it gave us more time to see them.  Unfortunately neither John and I came prepared with winter gear, namely boots, so we were all stuck inside.  Friday the sidewalks still had snow and ice on them,  some of which were turning to slush.  Dan could go into his office late so he offered to accompany us to the National Gallery of Art.  He was a big help in getting me over icy spots on the sidewalks.
The NGA was created in 1937 by Congress,  accepting the gift of Andrew Mellon, art collector and public servant.  His gift included old master paintings and sculptures and a building to house the new museum.  His hope was that the National Gallery would attract similar gifts from other donors and artists.  We spent about 6 hours in the National Gallery, and did not see it all.  When we got tired we sat for awhile in the rotunda, which has been designed like the pantheon in Rome.  Adding to the beauty of the tall marble columns currently is a collection of potted azalea bushes.  We had no problem sitting there for a spell.
The National Gallery has the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in North America, titled Ginevra de Benci. It was done in about 1474.   We made certain to see it, fortunately a museum docent was explaining the picture's features to a tour group while we were there.  On the back of this painting of a young woman is a scroll which bears an epigram: "beauty adorns virtue" .  To me the painting was very reminiscent of the painter's Mona Lisa.
Saturday Dan and Amanda suggested a walk along the Potomac River.  The weather was warming up.
We took the metro to the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of DC.  Our walk to the river took us near the various memorials of the Mall and past the World Health Organization building.  The big poster on the structure warns that little bites make big threats.
 We also walked past the State Department building as well as the Institute for Peace.  Walking along the Potomac we passed the Watergate Complex where we could see the Kennedy Performing Arts Center off in the distance.   Our capitol city is very much a fascinating place for anyone willing to get out and walk the streets!  And I am sure that every season here has its own particular beauty.
At Washington Harbor in Georgetown we took a break at one of the outdoor dining venues where we watched the activity on the skating rink.  We discovered that a bit of Baileys in our hot chocolates made for one delicious drink!  The rest of our walk was at a bit of a slower pace as we dawdled in the shops of Georgetown.
One final note here.  Sunday we attended services at St. Stephen's Episcopal church, and were inspired by a wonderful speaker, Fr. Michael Lapsley SSM.  He is an Anglican priest and former South African anti-apartheid activist.  He was wounded by a mail bomb and both of his hands were blown off.  Fr. Lapsley spoke of redemptive memory and healing, as well as restoration, forgiveness and reparation.   Most importantly, we need to forgive for our own healing and remember that God will be with us for the journey.

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