Father Eugene Hemrick

The news these days is anything but praiseworthy of Washington, D.C. Congressional investigations of corruption and mismanagement, Republicans and Democrats at each other, financial bickering, gridlock and career-ending scandals are a routine diet on which our nation imbibes. To make matters worse, dedicated staffers to the Congress have mournfully confided, “The last few years have been a total waste.”

Not all is bad with our Congress. Good still exists. At the moment, however, its dark side is outweighing its bright side. Whenever darkness prevails, brightness must be earnestly sought to offset it, no matter where it comes from. The backyard of the Congress is the city of Washington, which is one of the most beautiful and culturally advanced cities in our nation. This is where we can find the beauty we seek.

During spring, cherry blossoms, dogwoods, azaleas and flower beds dazzle the eye with colors only God could create, and lush Garden of Eden vegetation of trees, bushes and sprawling lawns abound.

Most people don’t visit a city to see its library and yet, the Library of Congress not only contains books of every type you would desire, but is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful buildings in Washington. Its reading room has rightfully been called a temple because of the sacred aura it exudes, and its Great Hall is modeled on the Paris opera house.

One month it may have an exhibit on Winston Churchill and the next month Thomas Jefferson. Several floors below the library is a maps section containing maps of the world throughout time. Hollywood has often used these maps to learn how towns in the past were constructed in order to duplicate them for movies.

Art and historical museums, the National Archives, botanical gardens and the Washington and Lincoln memorials — cultural delights — dot the mall. Although New York is considered the theater city of our nation, Washington has outstanding theaters situated in much quieter settings than most big cities offer.

Washington is very easy to navigate, possessing a modern subway system that demonstrates our ingenuity for moving growing populations conveniently.

What I have described is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Washington’s beauty and cultural offerings.

I have chosen to write this column because of the dark cloud that hangs over Washington. Darkness has a way of perpetuating itself, creating depression, disillusionment and a debilitating mood that is difficult to change.

But Washington is a national treasure to be cherished and possessed. In embracing it, we embrace the beauty, culture and goodness we are capable of producing — a perfect antidote to the perceived darkness.