A Walk to the Capitol

The day that President Obama gives a speech in the rose garden about immigration we arrive in D.C. And after we check into our hotel we make a big circle around the city using only our legs. We walk around the Washington Monument and gape at decorous fountains and snap pictures around too many tourists.

Everything has a plaque, everything has a story. We go to the Holocaust Museum that first afternoon and have our hearts broken into a million pieces and Jeffrey keeps looking at me with big eyes.

President Obama talks about dreamers and The Dream Actand earning citizenship and I am looking at blown-up photos of the MS St. Louis full of Jewish refugeesthat were denied safe haven by the United States in 1939. Wikipedia tells me that it is estimated that approximately a quarter of its passengers, back in Europe, died at the hands of the Nazis.
I wonder about their dreams.
Jeffrey wants to know why. Why would we come to a museum about something so horrible? There are names etched onto the glass wall that we walk through and I touch a woman’s name. Salomea. I trace the letters of her name on the glass and feel our souls touch. I lean my forehead into this ocean of names and breath a fine mist onto the glass and close my eyes. Is it possible to drown in an ocean made of glass?
They need to be remembered, I tell him.
It’s all so sad, he says and his words hang in the air around us. Too small.
We should never forget, I say. We can’t turn away from the hard stuff just because it feels bad. We need to learn from it. We need to see.
God knows their names, I whisper to myself.
He turns away anyway.
At night we walk down to the Capitol. It feels like our legs might fall off from all the walking, but we don’t want the day to end. The city seems so quiet after dark. We hear a lonely trumpet echo up empty streets. There are people sleeping in the middle of the sidewalk and in the doorways up and down the avenue. He carefully steps around them.
Mom, I feel so bad for these people, he whispers. But he doesn’t look away.
I want to put plaques up beside each one. I want to read their stories. 
We walk side-by-side up the street—breathe in the night air. And when we go as far as we can go, we stand and look up. The dome is aglow from the inside and I think about freedom.
And I can almost feel this boy’s heart growing inside of him as we stand, shoulders touching.
Don’t look away, I pray. Don’t ever look away.
Blogging in community with Michelle and Jen today. Love you girls!
And also with my sweet friend Jennifer: 

And Emily too:


  1. says

    Beautifully written, Laura.

    My hope will be that Jeffrey holds close what he’s seen and motivates others to look, too. We can never see until we look.

  2. says

    Oh, such sorrowful but teachable moments with your son. And you are teaching him well, Laura. I think this looking will help him to love more deeply.

  3. says

    Thank you for not looking away, and modeling for your son, and us, the importance of remembering and honoring another. True and beautiful…hope you get a chance to rest when VBS is over 🙂

  4. says

    That not-looking-away shows that you’ve reared him well. His heart has influence. It’s a good thing.

    Collecting the stories of the least of these. Hmmm.


  5. says

    Everyone has said what this writing means. It is a reflection of your heart that has been impressed on your son’s. He knows the sensitivity to others’ lives, and like you, he will not look away.
    This was exquisitely written, Laura.

  6. says

    You really touched my heart… and his. I also think of so many other situations in our nation and others where people have been persecuted [in one way or another] b/c they don’t “fit in”. It’s good to remind ourselves about that, b/c the day may come when we are the outcasts from those around us — but not from our dear Lord. He’s the only one that counts.

  7. judiersmith says

    loved this Laura – beautifully expressed. You bring so much blessing to us

    And, love your Bible School “Flash”!

  8. says

    Yeah. This is what I love about you, Laura. The not looking away. The leaning in. The giving of yourself to all that is truly important. Your heart is big, girl. And beautiful. You are beautiful. Love you!

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