This has been a phenomenal week! It opened with the unveiling of the new Silver Spring transit center, a multilevel bus depot that has run $80 million dollars over budget and 2 years behind schedule. For the past several years the construction site has been a behemoth obstacle to metro commuters as various agencies squabbled over how to fix structural issues uncovered during its safety inspection. I almost applauded as my bus entered the flashy new terminal on Sunday. I was excited to see Googlemaps was up to speed with the bay numbers as I transfered from the 16th Street bus and an LED screen let me know how long I needed to wait for my connection.
As if this wasn't thrilling enough, the Pope's visit injected some extra excitement into a DC week. Metro's prediction of massive crowds prompted most everyone in the burbs to "work" from home and rendered DC a ghost town. It was like a snow day.
I am one of the last people you would expect to exhibit popemania. Despite being Protestant, my parents sent me to a conveniently located Catholic school. The uniforms took the guesswork out of peer pressured dressing but otherwise it was a shame and guilt-inducing experience. Everything was a sin and there was a patron saint for everything. Any notion of a loving god was replaced with fear of a dogmatic judgmental deity that required bureaucratic adherence to rules and constant donations. Since I wasn't Catholic I was forced to do confession face to face with no screen and felt shunned during communion. I left 6th grade feeling that Catholicism was an anachronistic, patriarchal institution, and the church's handling of the sex abuse scandals and ban on condoms during the AIDS crisis further intensified my alienation.
But Pope Francis' messages on poverty and climate change compelled me to go downtown on Thursday and listen to his historic speech to Congress. Since i didn't have a ticket, I planned on joining the climate rally so as a non-catholic I would have a better excuse for missing half a day at my environmental conservation job. I was greeted at the metro exit by an activist passing out attractive blue posters with pope quotes so I was all set! I got a great seat near a jumbotron.
Much to my surprise Moby was one of the performers and when unexpectedly granted more time at the end of his set he did one of my favorites with help from an amazing vocalist (the shaky cam resulted from me being asked to sign a petition while trying to capture the moment). The pope's message of hope and plea for compassion brought me to tears and the sight of his fiat as his motorcade departed made me squeal. I am so thankful to have been a part of this inspiring, momentous occasion.