Friday, November 8, 2013

Exploring IPS

    On day 3 of my trip to Washington DC, I made it to my real destination: the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. It's a Catholic graduate school for Psychology, located in Crystal City, Virginia. I first discovered IPS 5 years ago. After my first psych class, I knew this was the field for me and I immediately began to look for Catholic schools. So yes, IPS has been on my radar for a long time.  The first thing that caught my eye about the school was the banner across the top of the website that read "Do you have a vocation to heal?" To me, vocation is a powerful word. It means that it's a person's call from God to fulfill their specific purpose in life. Anyway, that's what I first loved about IPS.
     After all these years, I finally arrived at the school. While waiting to officially start the tour, I found my way into the little library that was packed full of books on Catholic things, ways to help families, famous Psychologists and their theories, and many other awesome topics(in my opinion). The tour didn't take long, as the school only occupies a small portion of an office building, and then I got to meet some students and faculty. Everyone was humble and friendly, which really impressed me. The best part of the whole day was meeting with the founder. She had a quiet voice but it was filled with determined passion and gentleness. She referenced Blessed JPII's Love and Responsibility, stating that too often, psychologists use their clients to some end and only seek to treat their symptoms, instead of providing real healing. She said that the IPS mission is to look at each person through God's eyes; that is, to see them for who He created them to be and not for what they've done, which means loving them as a unique human being. Establishing such a relationship provides the foundation on which to begin to rebuild lives. It's so incredible and powerful!
     What I can say at this point is that IPS is the real deal. It's everything I dreamed it would be and more. The union of Catholic theology with Psychology provides a view of the whole person that's based on their inherent worth and dignity as a human and seeking to bring about their greatest good. Sounds amazing, right? Who knows, maybe this time next year I'll be taking my first few classes. :) Whatever God has in store, I'm ready. Hopefully it includes getting to study at IPS. ;)

Exploring DC

       My trip to Washington DC was wonderful! I was able to see a friend for 30min in Denver, which was awesome. I almost felt like we were on a sort of speed date. haha Flying into DC, the first thing I noticed, aside from the gorgeous Fall colors of the trees, was the Capitol building. Next, I noticed tiny sailboats below, sailing on the Potomac river, speeding along thanks to the cold fall wind. After landing and getting settled in my hotel room, I ventured out into the city to find some yummy food. I met two Arabic men and their giant African-America bodyguard while I was waiting in a tiny little Chinese restaurant. They complimented me on the indoor soccer shoes I was wearing(the body guard stooped down to give me a high five) and then they promptly disappeared into the noisy bar attached to the restaurant. It was an odd encounter but I didn't think about it anymore once I was eating some of the best Chinese food I've ever had and watching MLS soccer on TV.
        That was day 1.
        The next morning, I was up early and riding on the metro, gearing up to see the sights of DC. I walked past the Arlington cemetery and across the Arlington Memorial bridge towards the Lincoln Memorial. I was immediately confronted by the huge tress that looked like they were dipped in gold or were burning with fire. Talk about amazing colors! I couldn't spend too much time admiring said trees because of the amount of runners on the bridge. I noticed that few of them had bibs from a race and it turns out that there was a 5k going on. How cool! By now, I was almost at the base of the Lincoln Memorial and I'm pretty sure I had a goofy grin on my face from seeing the runners. When I reached the top of the stairs, I gasped and was transfixed. Lincoln was sitting there in his giant throne, staring sternly towards Capitol hill. It got chills from the look in his marble eyes and they're still haunting me as I write this. He seemed so powerful, imposing, determined, and...beautiful! He appeared like a guardian of the people, reminding the lawmakers to protect them or face his wrath. Whoa.
     I made my way along the Reflecting Pool and thrilled to the sound of the wind in the trees. I walked around the World War II memorial and get teary eyed as I saw the tribute to the fallen heroes. The Washington Monument was getting some work done, so it was outlined by thick wire cages. I followed the well worn trail along the Tidal Basin that led to the Jefferson Memorial. The tall statue of Jefferson was also facing the lawmakers, entreating them to remember the spirit of his words. From there, I trekked along the National Mall, surrounded by enormous museums. On the large lawns that stretched towards Capitol Hill, there was an odd assortment of people playing pick up games of flag football, ultimate frisbee, and soccer. I had to laugh when I thought how much I was in awe of the history around me while they were busy shouting at each other to pass the ball or disc. Everywhere I looked, there was another statue or tribute. Finally on Capitol Hill, I was overwhelmed by thoughts of the incredible people who had stood where I was standing and seen what I was seeing. I may have cried a little at this point. ;) haha
     I caught the metro to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. My jaw dropped when I saw how huge it was from the outside and I could hardly believe my eyes when I stepped inside. I most definitely cried here when I beheld the beauty and power of God depicted in gorgeous mosaics from top to bottom of this incredible church. Mass was beautiful and the choir sounded like angels. I worshiped God in a church fit for a king while surrounded by people from many different nations and languages. It was incredible! After Mass, I explored every single side alter, icon, mosaic, and room, which took me almost 2 hrs. I got a real taste of the universality of the Catholic church as I was comforted by the many titles bestowed on our Blessed Mother by her loving children. Amazing.
    For the rest of the day, I continued to explore DC. I enjoyed the Air and Space Museum and the Botanical Gardens before walking back towards Lincoln at sunset. Venus was shining brightly by the time I reached the steps for the last stop of the day. My breath caught as I saw him again, this time lit up, still keeping his vigil of protection for his people.
     And that, my friends, is the end of day 2.