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Fleeting Eternity

nora blog

Editor’s note: Lay missioner in formation, Nora McMahon, uses a poetic language to reflect on an early morning adventure with her casamates.

530 am Alarm

540 am Put on kettle

550 am Let tea cool

600 am Drink tea

610 am Head out


We make it to the Lincoln Memorial by 640 just as the first rays of Dawn peak over the horizon, shadowing the footsteps of the solitary runners along the Reflection Pool. We have a full day ahead of us, but everyone here has decided to get up in the dark to see something we’ve been witness to many times in our life from a new perspective. 


I’ve been excited to see the sights of DC since I came here, but today, at this moment, it feels surreal. With everything going on in the world, things that were assumed to have been made out of stone now look like sand, ready to crumple at the slightest touch. So if they could fall like that, were they ever real to begin with? The big illusion, the polite veneer that everyone accepted to get on with their lives. 


I look around at the top steps of the Lincoln Memorial just as the Sun peaks its eye above the treetops. What does Lincoln think of his legacy of sand now? 

Or is he watching the Sunrise with us? The Washington Monument could sprinkle to dust, the Reflection Pool can thirst, but the Sun will always rise, as it has. 


That’s daunting. Is nothing I know and can touch eternal? Doomed to dust? 

Members of the Casa at the Lincoln Memorial for an early sunrise.




There’s a dance crew below us.

Friends put down a blanket on the grass to watch the new and ancient sights.

Army cadets hustle by, no time for a break when you’ve got something to be. 


Both sides of me, 

my Casamates. 

I didn’t come here alone and I won’t leave here alone either.


It’s like a riddle: What’s the difference between You and the washington monument? 

One of those things will last forever. And it’s not the one made of stone.


The reflection pool imperfectly reflects the sunrise, it’s man made, but a person’s soul? How could you get any closer to a reflection of God on earth? Spending time watching God’s Sunrise is my favorite prayer at the Casa.


Don’t wish you could visit those fleeting places and things, when you can reach out and meet something eternal. Go out and watch something that has been around for millions of years and still changes everyday.

What most attracted me to the long-term overseas mission with FMS was the emphasis on solidarity with the poor. A lot of other wonderful mission programs preferred to focus on other aspects of serving communities, but I love FMS’s commitment to being with the people they are serving. It is unique and adds a depth, that you are not only going overseas to provide a service but to understand.