This may not be the most obvious take on the recent visit of Pope Francis to Washington, but stick with me… Also, enjoy this Friday’s Morning Glory from EWTN Radio in which we discuss the Holy Father’s DC Visit
We’ve all heard that smell memories are the strongest of all. My kindergarten teacher – who I’ve not seen in decades, at this point – was immediately present to me one day when a woman wearing her distinctive perfume walked by. Smells communicate as much as anything, perhaps more so.
One commonly known smell is crushed grass. Not freshly cut, not alpine heather… you heard me, “crushed” grass. It takes us back to the pumpkin patch trip in first grade… or the state fair we attended on a visit to grandma’s house… it’s the distinctive mixture of oft-trodden grass and well worked slightly damp soil, now fully exposed to the breeze. In Washington, the smell of crushed grass usually means that something big happened on the National Mall, and this week was no exception: the Pope came to town.
Crushed grass in DC connotes many things… It can mean that a protest has taken place, or that the Smithsonian’s Folk Life Festival is in full swing. Usually the smell of crushed grass is attended by a general feeling of exhaustion, political fallout and a desire to return to the status quo as soon as possible. Taking America by storm in his Fiat 500L, Pope Francis generated something very different. As tens of thousands traversed the Mall and the Ellipse, the days were not marked by exasperation, but by HOPE… pure unadulterated HOPE, of the kind that no politician has brought since – perhaps – Kennedy, or Roosevelt before him. For two days everyone believed that something better could happen… that common ground can be found in a shared sense of humanity. As the National Mall springs back from its latest thrashing, will the scent of hope stay in the air? I pray so.