Have you ever had that feeling?

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It was a beautiful evening, over two years ago, before I became a pastor at Western Church. I was a pastor in Barrington, and my Rhode Island representative, Patrick Kennedy, invited me to join him at the National Prayer Breakfast.

I was riding over Memorial Bridge with his office manager, heading into D.C. from Reagan Airport. The night was crisp, and I could see the Lincoln Memorial in front of me, with its white grand pillars against the backdrop of the dark evening sky.

Many emotions flooded me. The first was the sense of grandeur that overtakes me when I come face to face with great architecture. That building that been on the tip of my finger every time I rubbed a penny in my pocket was suddenly in front of me, and I felt the greatness of the city and an undeniable love for my country pulsing in my veins.

Then there was another feeling: it was like deja vu. Except I didn’t have the eerie impression that I had been there before, I had the sense that I was going to be there in the future. While riding over that bridge, I felt like I was going home. Even though I didn’t know anything about Western Church, even though I didn’t want to leave Rhode Island, I somehow sensed that things were going to change for me and my family.

In the midst of the flood, I blurted out to the driver, “Do you ever get used to this?”

“What?” she asked in return.

“Do you ever get used to seeing the architecture? Do you lose the sense of how amazing it is, after you’ve lived here for a few years?”

She smiled in the rear view mirror. She knew what I was talking about. “Well, sometimes there’s traffic…but, no. You don’t lose the feeling.”

I did lose the sense that I was “home” when I attended the breakfast. Like a fish out of water. It was not what I expected. There was this strange array of people there, from organizations with names like “Wallbuilders.” I shook their hands while wondering, “Aren’t we supposed to be tearing those down?”

I was one of the very few people who wore a clerical collar, and definitely the only woman in one. There were a lot of women there. I’m guessing they were mostly in their late fifties, many of them wore sequined dresses and sprayed their abundant hair with glitter for the occasion (did I mention it was breakfast?).

The politicians got up and told us how many Bible studies they attended and how much they prayed. They played to the audience a lot. They told jokes about how it was a bipartisan event, and they were surprised to find out that there were some Democrats who were Christian. That joke was repeated several times. I sat at a table next to Peggy and Tony Campolo, who looked about as amused as I did (and just for the record, Peggy didn’t have sequins or glitter).

It was weeks later when I got the call from Western, beginning the interview process to become a pastor there. The position looked amazing, perfect really, but I pretty much dismissed the possibility, because I didn’t think there was any way we could afford it. Then I emailed a friend of mine, a pastor in Falls Church, and he said, “It’s a wonderful church. They’re wonderful people. Don’t write this one off too quickly.”

I didn’t, and now I find myself driving over Memorial Bridge, almost every morning to get to work. And she was right. The feeling doesn’t go away.

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6 thoughts on “Have you ever had that feeling?

  1. It doesn’t.

    I was here on a journalism internship in 1994, the summer after college graduation. I left from Union Station on August 4, saying to myself, “I don’t know how or when but I will live here again some day.”

    I still can’t believe I get to live here. Of course I am further out than you—on the other hand, the place is becoming sprawling enough that I’m a darned downtowner in comparison to some people.

  2. I was in Washington DC on business several months ago. I was alone in a rental car at night headed north for Gaithersburg when I found myself somehow inside the beltway!! What to do???

    I figured all I had to do was pull a u-turn and get out again.

    When that didn’t work, I figured all I had to do was stop in a vacant lot and look at my map to re-orient myself.

    When that didn’t work, I panicked.

    Two hours later, I finally found myself outside the beltway, relieved to be alive! I wish I could have enjoyed the architecture, but I spent my entire time in WashDC looking for U-turn signs, and stressed over the traffic. Bummer.

  3. I remember talking with you when I visited APTS as a potential student. You seemed so poised and so wise! Love the blog. So wise…

    Peace,
    Alex

  4. My kids are sick of me saying – every time we cross Memorial Bridge — “We are so lucky we get to live here.” I love it. Will always love it.

  5. He Is Sailing,

    Oh no! The beltway! The view from there is not our best. And I’ve been lost in those highways mazes more times that I care to admit. I hope you get a chance to take in more sights during your next visit.

    Alex,

    I thought you looked familiar! Did you end up at APTS? Thank you for the kind words. They were so nice to read when I came home in my post-service fog of exhaustion.

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