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A Surprise Trip to Washington, D.C.

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It all happened really fast. I found out my dad was going to Washington, D.C. to visit his aunt (my great-aunt) for a few days. I texted him a couple days later and asked if Lyd and I could go with him. He found us tickets for a couple weeks out, and last Wednesday morning we woke up at 4 something for the 6 AM flight to Reagan International.

We waited until a couple days before the trip to tell Lyd. She was very excited when we told her she was leaving in two days, but I’m glad we didn’t wait until the very last minute to tell her because she told me packing her bag and buying travel size toiletries was “so much fun.” (She is as type-A as kids can come. I don’t have a clue where she gets that from.)

My great-aunt has lived in Washington, D.C. for three decades, and she is quite the tour guide. We went all over the city, and even made a day trip to Sperryville, Virginia where she has a cottage near Shenandoah National Park. Going to D.C. to visit her was my first solo trip as a kid, so it was a lot of fun to watch Lyd explore some of my favorite places. And I loved getting to see her face as she saw so much of the history she has learned about in a tangible way. Seeing Abe Lincoln’s top hat, a space suit worn on the moon, and the  flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner–it made history come alive, and I loved watching that.

One of the days when I had to keep asking Lyd to hold my hand while we crossed busy streets, I felt her pulling her hand away wanting to be free to run and skip. And I felt the tugging in my heart, her wanting a bit more space to be independent. I knew from time spent with other people’s kindergartners that there’s a big growth transition from the beginning of kindergarten to the end. But here we are finishing up our school year, and it still surprised me.

I have a hard time reconciling the freedom of yesteryear when you could let your kids wander throughout the neighborhood with the reality of the world we live in today. How much freedom is good? How much is dangerous? I don’t know the answer to that.

But I do know my most important work will be done in prayer. The first night we were in D.C. she was reading a book in bed when I heard her breathing slow down. I looked over and she had fallen asleep. I remembered seeing her face take in the glory of the Rose Window at the National Cathedral that afternoon. This is the verse I prayed for her . . .

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:1-3

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