In The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown describes Washington National Cathedral as “a refuge in Rome, north of the Tiber, which contains ten stones from Mount Sinai, one from heaven itself, and one with the visage of Luke’s dark father.” It is a place I have visited several times, each visit having a distinct purpose, and each reflecting different visitor motivations according to the research of John Falk:
- checking out the building with my significant other at the time, who was visiting from out of state (explorer, experience seeker, facilitator)
- having a picnic and strolling some of the gardens with a Meetup group (facilitator, explorer)
- visiting, with a graduate school classmate on the third day of school, to explore an assigned museum in-depth – and to ask, is the Cathedral a museum? (professional/hobbyist, facilitator)
- viewing the annual creche exhibit as I was researching Nativity scenes in American folk art for a term paper (professional/hobbyist)
- attending a labyrinth walk with friends (recharger, facilitator)
On my most recent visit, I was a recharger and an explorer, wandering the Bishop’s Garden (a part of the Cathedral grounds I had not seen before) on a not-too-hot day. The Shadow House, a lovely stone gazebo, is a relaxing spot with a nice cool breeze. In the garden, statues peek out among leaves and flowers. Benches in the garden offer seats in addition to those in the gazebo itself.
Dan Brown did his best to make the National Cathedral sound mysterious, maybe even sinister. The Bishop’s Garden, in bright daylight on this particular late spring day, was just a cheerful, relaxing place to be.
June’s blog theme is Learning from Objects: Primary and Secondary Sources.