Pulling up to the National Cathedral is one of those experiences where you are just in awe. The outside of the building, complete with gargoyles and intricate gothic detail brought Raphael and the Noble Task by Catherine Salton back from a long-ago trip to the mountains, reading out loud with my kids, lost in story. The main character is a griffin who is supposed to guard the Cathedral and keep it from harm.
And then we entered this incredible place, conceived by General George Washington as a place where a new nation would receive all, no matter what their religion, into a place of worship. The light on this particular day was coming in through the many stained-glass windows erupting in a color show to rival any fireworks display, drawing the eyes up, away from self, to a place of glory and peace. I would happily have simply lay on the floor of that great nave and gazed heavenward for hours.
A lovely volunteer took us around and gave us as much information as we could take in about how it was built, why, with what materials, how it became Episcopalian but maintains its mission to welcome all, and all the elements that had to come together to make it happen. We walked through beautiful chapels, walked beside the pulpit where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, went down into the crypt where Hellen Keller is entombed, and up to the 7th floor to look out to see the Washington Monument off in the distance. It is an experience not to be missed and set a tone of reverence in us as we made our way back to DC that evening.