O, what a cathedral!
I first stepped into Washington DC’s National Cathedral forty-one years ago with my fellow junior high friends. I was mesmerized by the sheer beauty and magnificent height. I thought Ford Street United Methodist Church’s high-ceilinged sanctuary was terribly high, but National Cathedral appeared to be three of my home church’s sanctuary stacked on top of one another.
As a chaperone and guide with my brother’s students, I loved exploring the cathedral. As a dad, I made sure we worshipped at the cathedral at least once during our annual Washington DC visits, or perhaps catch a concert.
One summer, Matthew, Josuha, and I left our Outer Banks vacation, returning to Ohio via Washington DC and Gettysburg. Sunday morning, in our dress clothes brought specifically for this event, I guided the boys into a specific row off of the South Nave aisle facing the Choir.
Before sitting, I had Matthew go up to pat the stone wall. As he patted the chilly stone, he turned and asked, “Why am I patting this? For good luck or something?”
“No. That’s where President Woodrow Wilson is buried.” With that, Matthew went white and sat down.
I’ve returned often since that 2003 summer day, as have all the sons at one time or another. One son was thoughtful by bringing back a National Cathedral Christmas tree ornament as a gift for me.
Over the years I’ve watched on television the countless ceremonies, mostly funerals, and this morning I am working while half-watching the funeral services of Senator John McCain. The sea of faces, legendary and current political leaders, is heart-warming, even reassuring.
I’ve always liked Sen. McCain and considered voting for him during his first campaign for president. I became especially interested in John McCain when I discovered he, too, was an adoptive father and had served in the US Navy. One son got to experience the senator’s legendary verbal tirade during a meeting in the Russell Senate Office Building only to receive an apologetic hug when it was discovered my son was adopted and had gone through our country’s severely broken foster care system.
This morning, while working at my laptop on the deck, I am listening to and half-watching the funeral service for John McCain at Washington’s National Cathedral. I think this funeral has been more moving to me than those of Senator Ted Kennedy and Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee.
Thank you, John and Cindy McCain, for believing in adoption and showing us how to be fighters in the ring for those who need fighting for.