This place and its people are wild, alive—owned and loved by God Himself. When I fully digest this, my love for this city and my understanding of who God is intensifies and spills over into love and hope for those nearest me.
Where there are sirens, there are also church bells.
Kathryn Streeter is a special contributor and columnnist for her local paper, author of regular articles and quarterlies, and is working on Young Mom, a book persuading families to reconsider the good life of city neighbourhoods. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
50 things I love about city life in Washington, D.C.
By Kathryn Streeter
A passion pervades this city. Sirens sounding remind me of the pain. Church bells ring out in answer—a song of hope. From grand columns and architecture, the meticulous detail of America’s most precious man-made structures testifies to man’s passion to create something beautiful; it reflects minds filled with creativity and a longing for permanence.
Alexandra and Max Streeter, on Theodore Roosevelt Island (#30) with the spires of Georgetown (#15) in the background.
- Picnics and pigeons at Lafayette Square facing the White House
- Fourth of July
- The Capitol dome bathed in sunlight
- An unexpected protest or parade
- Books, newspapers, blackberries, cell phones, laptops, and iPods
- Quiet talks in the atrium at the National Gallery of Art
- The smell of magnolia trees and cherry blossoms
- Mr. Dee, the mysterious, reserved old man at Starbucks who weekly gives my children pennies
- The glassy Potomac River
- The National Cathedral’s Resurrection Chapel
- Bratwurst from street vendors
- Public officials casually walking around
- Kayakers gliding the Potomac
- The Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
- The spires of Georgetown University
- Heels getting stuck in city grates or brick sidewalks
- Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life series (Childhood, Youth, Manhood, Old Age) in the National Gallery of Art
- Pedestrian traffic
- The view from the Washington Monument
- Hearing familiar and unfamiliar languages
- My friend, the Metro
- Sharing the same Trader Joe’s with Senator John Warner
- My children’s school friends from all walks of life
- Gargoyles at the National Cathedral
- Commuter congestion on the sidewalk in front of my townhouse
- The Willard Hotel‘s old-world lounge
- Exhibits on the National Mall
- Live jazz at the Smithsonian’s Sculpture Garden Friday nights with our feet cooling in the fountain
- The Union Street Pub and its twenty-year-veteran bartender, Bruce Witucki
- Tramping through Theodore Roosevelt Island
- Three hours west: mountains and horse country
- Three hours east: beaches
- Crossing the 14th Street Bridge at the moment a plane is coming in for a landing
- Sharing the same Starbucks with John King of CNN and Fred Barnes of Fox News
- An easy walk to the local public library with librarians who call my children by name
- Washington Zoo, early Thanksgiving morning
- Minutes from the Ronald Reagan Airport
- Kneeling and praying with my kids for our military at George Washington’s Christ Church
- Freedom from the car
- The Library of Congress
- Marine One—and its nearby decoys—overhead
- Friendly nannies from all over the world
- The National Gallery of Art’s free Children’s Program
- Coffee-shop culture
- Dogs, dogs, dogs!
- A near-daily walk to the grocery store, just five minutes away
- Overhearing my 6-year-old in a political conversation with a classmate
- Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns
- CafÃ© La Ruche in Georgetown
- The air filled with piercing sirens . . . and church bells.
The intricate design of the city’s flowering trees speaks of God’s attention and intense delight and matches the marvels of the constructed beauty for which the city is known. Washington, D.C.—both place and people—is wild, alive, and colorful, sparking electricity, and I’m reminded that this ‘fullness’ around me is inhabited, owned, and loved by God Himself. When I fully digest this, my love for this city and my understanding of who God is intensifies and spills over into love and hope for those nearest me, my husband, and our children. I’m encouraged to bravely challenge both my husband and growing children to charge ahead with passion and energy. Engaging this culture is riddled with pain and disappointment, but where there are sirens, there are also church bells ringing with hope.
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein
—Psalm 24:1 (ESV)