December 2012By Donald Lospinuso
Donald Lospinuso is a writer and consultant from Huntington, New York. In his professional capacity he is a pediatric nurse practitioner (in contemporary parlance, a primary-care provider). He has written about philosophical, scientific, and literary subjects, and has a special interest in the application of morals to professional practice. He looks forward to the publication of his novel, Strange Events at St. Oswins.
They dreamt not of a perishable home
Who thus could build. Be mine, in hours of fear
Or groveling thought, to seek a refuge here.
Without design and without searching, I once found an unexpected treasure. One day in early autumn, while traveling in Queens County in New York City, in a district known as Jamaica, I came upon a large wooden sign, red with gold lettering, bearing the words Church of the Incarnation Roman Catholic. I had seen the sign too late to see the church itself. But I saw, stretching from the corner on which the sign stood, two three-story buildings of red brick with sand-colored trim a convent and a school. I resolved to take a better look at them and to see the church.
Business took me to the area of South Jamaica, and on the drive there and back I saw stores defaced by graffiti, streets with refuse clinging to curbs, lurid billboards and signs of unabashed hucksterism offering cheap commodities, including divorce services, and storefront churches with the suggestions they carry of simoniacal calculation, fanaticism, and, no doubt, on the part of some in the congregation, pathos and heartfelt religious sentiments with no other place their bearers know to bring them.
It was with great relief after completing my business meetings, and having hurriedly begun my retreat, that I again espied the clean, swept sidewalks and the small but well-cared-for school grounds at the Church of the Incarnation, which I had seen earlier and wished to see again, with its separate entrances for girls and boys, each designated by a word carved in stone above it.
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