OOC: And the last part is done, following the first post and the interlude. Anything I said in the other entries applies. I procrastinated on working on this one, that's why it's so late. Anyway, hope to talk to all of you soon.
In the motorcade on the way to the National Cathedral, Ben is quiet. He keeps Evelyn’s hand in his as he stares out into the darkness of the District. Almost midnight. The cars ahead and behind him are not only filled with the Secret Service, but also with members of his staff who look more awake than he feels. Must be the coffee, because he’s fairly certain they aren’t getting much more sleep than he is.
December has been a month beyond busy; he doesn’t have high hopes for January.
The limousine moves smoothly through the streets and they’re at the cathedral before long. Washington National Cathedral’s offer of an interfaith service appealed to the President, in that he could share it with various friends, colleagues, and supporters. Malloy opened up this midnight service to any and all White House staff who wished to attend. There would be a few Senators and members of Congress, and the Mayor of D.C. eagerly accepted an invitation. He’d handwritten a note to St. Matthew’s, thanking them for their kind invitation but that he would be unable to accept their offer. Instead, the President invited the Monsignor to the White House and let his secretary wrestle with the details.
He’ll wind up at St. Matthew’s again, even if it isn’t until the Red Mass in the fall. He can’t worry about whether he’s offended the Catholics for not accepting an invitation he in no way solicited. There may be a separation between church and state, he thinks wryly as the motorcade pulls up to the cathedral, but they both have their politics just the same.
He steps from the car, closing his coat against the cold, and holds out his hand to assist Eve from the limo as well. Then they’re moving inside under the direction of agents. Stepping inside the National Cathedral, one is overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. It seems even larger now with such a small group of people in comparison. The President stops to greet a few people before moving on to the front pew.
A brief genuflection, the Sign of the Cross… Ben is beginning to think that this wasn’t such a good idea. It’s a lot easier to analyze your shaky relationship with organized religion – let alone God! – when it isn’t right in front of your face. He sits back against the hard wood of the bench and only relaxes because his wife is next to him and there’s music, a choir singing beautifully. He looks around at familiar faces, lets his eyes rest on an unfamiliar altar.
You wanted this, Ben, he reminds himself. You wanted to be here, even if you weren’t quite sure why.
He still isn’t sure, but he’s got a few good ideas. Besides the compulsion derived from years of going to church as a boy, besides the fact that it makes for good press coverage… it’s humbling. He feels humbled by both Cathedrals and the honor they’ve shown him and by the respect and consideration of his staff, by helping him not only with the plans for this evening but also throughout the year.
He turns to Evelyn and smiles.
And for now, he forgets all about whether or not he should be here, whether or not he’s doing all he can for the country, for his family, for his staff. For now, he lets the music and the incense and the holiday season wash over him, and he's grateful.