I remember playing this song on the piano when I was young. I would play it over and over (mostly because it was easy), thinking about what sakura--cherry blossoms--must look like. If someone took the time to write a song about them, they must be exquisite.

And that they are. Brock and I took the Bolt Bus down to DC this weekend to catch the last of the cherry blossoms. After navigating our way through an atheist rally (proper name: the "Reason Rally"), we meandered our way down with the masses toward the Tidal Basin (where we also saw the new Martin Luther King Jr. Monument--very cool!). It was the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the United States, one hundred of which are still standing today.

There is something about cherry blossoms that makes you wax poetic; how delicate they are, how soft, how gracefully they hang from their branches, like ballerinas on a barre; how a small breeze is all it takes to wisk them away in flurry of fluttering pink snow. The life of a cherry blossom is rapturous--it isn't every day that millions flock to see anything, let alone a small pink flower--and, ultimately, tragic. How can something so timeless vanish so quickly? How can something so majestic be so fragile?

The cherry blossoms (or, as I like to call them, BL-AWESOMES!) weren't the only thing waiting for us in DC. Our dear friends Ryan and Tiffany were kind enough to let us crash at their place and we had such a fun time catching up with them. We ate way too much at Good Stuff Eatery (our beloved toasted marshmallow shake--how we've missed it!), moseyed around Eastern Market, poked around our favorite bookstore with our favorite crotchety old bookkeeper, enjoyed delicious sandwiches from Potbelly, had a fun movie night with All The President's Men,  gorged on Reubens at a Jewish deli, and sat around talking for hours (I'm pretty sure that's how you know you have good friends).

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the DC 3rd Ward on Sunday--where we went to church when we loved there. I can't even tell you how happy I was to see old friends there. It really felt like home. Halfway during Sacrament Meeting, Brock looked over at me and saw me crying. "I know why you're sad," he said, "because I feel the same way, too. You don't want to leave here, do you?" I was so choked up that all I could do was shake my head back and forth. I looked out the window and watched the wind carry cherry blossoms off the tree outside.

Once per month, Mormons fast on Sunday and donate the money they would  have spent on meals to the needy. It's a time for self-reflection and spiritual rejuvenation. On Fast Sunday, Sacrament Meeting takes a special form where--for most of the meeting--anyone  in the congregation is welcome to step up to the pulpit and bear their testimony of the gospel.

There is nothing like Fast and Testimony Meeting at the DC 3rd Ward. So many of the members come from storied pasts--many of them are new converts who come from immigrant families (many from West Africa) or have battled addictions to various substances. Having grown up in other churches, many of the nuances of Mormon culture are lost on them. And I love it! There is such a soulful, Southern evangelical feel to the DC 3rd Ward. Everybody who gets up to the pulpit greets the congregation with "Good Afternoon!" and everybody replies "Good Afternoon!" in return. Instead of the standard "I would like to bear my testimony..." opening that most members give, many say things like "Dear Lord, I would like to thank You for a beautiful day and for the beautiful opportunity to share my testimony with You."

You can always count on Sister Mack to be the first one up to bear her testimony every month. She's an old, short black woman with no teeth who always wears a hat to church. And she always says the same thing when she bears her testimony: I'm gon sing my testimony in a song, but I ain't very good at singin' and so you all need to sing along. And every month, we all sing the same song with Sister Mack:

You got to stand your test in judgement
You got to stand it for yourself
Ain't nobody else can stand it for you
You go to stand if for yourself

The testimonies you'll hear in that ward are simple, pure . . . filled with love and faith so strong you can feel their souls on fire. The speakers, many of them poorly educated, are not eloquent; their thoughts are jumbled and at times incoherent. Despite this, rarely am I not moved to tears by their words. Let me share one story that a sister in the ward recounted to us last Sunday. For context, know that this sister has overcome hard addiction in the past and has a very difficult time keeping her head above water financially.

Every week, I make tuna fish sandwiches for the homeless. But this past month was tight, so I couldn't buy the sandwich spread that I normally put on them. (She holds up a jar of Kraft Sandwich Spread and starts to get teary-eyed.) So I prayed to God that he would help me. Help me find money to buy the things I needed to make these sandwiches. Well, I go to church the next Sunday, and there's a family with a trunk full of that exact same sandwich spread. I couldn't believe it! And they were just giving it away, they had too much. I didn't want to be greedy, so I only took four. Each jar costs $2.65, so I figured I saved about $10 right there. So I used that $10 I saved to go buy five loaves of bread and some more tuna. From all of that, I was able to make about 25 sandwiches. And I just KNOW God is lookin' out for us because He helped me find a way to make those tuna fish sandwiches!

Can you see why I want to move back? :)

Brock left Sunday night so he could make it to work the next morning, but I decided to leave Monday afternoon so I could have time to visit old friends in Congressman Chaffetz' office! 

Early Monday morning, I bid adieu to Ryan and Tiffany and headed for the Tidal Basin again. I wanted more pictures of them since Saturday was overcast and rainy. When I got there, I couldn't believe how bare the trees were! Only a few blossoms left! I was happy have have them all to myself.

As it turns out, Monday also marked the opening debates of the Affordable Care Act at the Supreme Court!  I got in line about an hour before everything was set to start, hoping to get a front-row seat to the action. It was fun to be there and watch/listen to all the demonstrations outside--democracy is so freaking rad. I even got interviewed by NPR! Don't know that I made it on air, but it was still cool (and nerve-wracking!) to talk about my opinions with a major news source.

The time came to hand out red tickets--those going to the people in line who got a seat inside for the full 90-minute argument. There were 120 red tickets. I was the 121st person in line. Suuuuuuuck!!!!!!! I couldn't believe it! Such a bummer! If only I'd caught that one metro that pulled away from me at the last second . . . maybe I could've gotten there three minutes earlier and been #119. ARRRRGHHH. Oh, well. That's life.

As much of a drag as that was, it meant that I was the first person in line for a yellow ticket, which entitles you to a sit in on the case for 3-5 minutes. So I did get in! What an amazing mental picture I'll have for the rest of my life: All nine Supreme Court justices sitting on the bench, listening to the Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's opening statements. Amazing! There was even a funny moment when Justice Kagan asked Verrilli what exactly was being challenged: The constitutionality of the individual mandate or the sanction? To which he responded, "Well, I will not argue that this statute is a perfect model of clarity." The courtroom hummed with chuckles! 

After sitting in on history, I stepped back into my past: 1032 Longworth! I spent about fifteen minutes catching up with everyone there: Tanner, Troy, John, Fred, Justin . . . all the women in the office had left for motherhood! Things in the office had changed a lot, but personalities were the same. Just like old times, it wasn't long before conversation devolved into base humor :) Hey, it's not my fault that I happened to be holding giant rubber band balls and that someone in the office made a comment about it. (It is  my fault, however, that I couldn't refrain from a slew of raunchy innuendos thereafter.) MAN, I miss those guys! 

Not a bad weekend. Not bad at all.


  1. Apparently, it was a pretty boring day otherwise in terms of courtroom action. All the fun was on the outside, or so NPR said!

  2. They're beautiful! Perhaps you'll like this poem (involving) cherry blossoms. The lineation is all messed up, but you can access The New Yorker through BYU if you want to see how it was originally written. Or you can just read the words here through this link:

  3. Supreme Court?! So cool. Congrats, though sorry you couldn't see the whole thing.


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