Monday, July 18, 2022
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We have been coming to the Berkshires for years but had never visited St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Stockbridge. Will Morgan recommended the magnificent works of art in this gem, and we so immersed ourselves. We were not prepared for the bonus.
The architect was Charles F. McKim, of the same firm that designed our RI State House. At the entrance was a sculpture by Daniel Chester French, the renowned sculptor of the famous seated Lincoln in The Lincoln Memorial. More jewels were inside; magnificent stained-glass windows of Louis Comfort Tiffany and a sculpture by Louis Saint Gaudens in the Baptistry; replicas of a frieze “The Singing Children” by Luca Della Robbia in the transept; work of John La Farge in the sanctuary, and more treasures at every twist and turn.
There are extraordinary and personal testimonials on the stained glass works, dedicated by the families who honored the bravery of those members of the military who answered our country’s call and lost their lives.
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And the bonus. Something more than works of art and emotional testimonials popped up. Eager as I was to treat this church like a museum, trying to be efficient, reading enough so as not to miss anything, my direction changed at the moment I entered. I paused. The church was tranquil, the only sound that of meditative, near penitent music, playing softly in the background. Gone was the din of traffic, and the sounds of the season. I sat, listened, and looked as I thought, “This is a place where the world would do well to stop. This is a place where we can get away from the stresses that surround us.” A moment of spirituality, not religion, came upon me . . . a moment when all I wanted was to sit and think.
Typically, in those too rare moments, my thoughts shift to family health, safety, and our good fortunes. But this day, I was out a bit further, thinking of those poor innocent victims of mass shooting murders. And I was wondering about the less than candid, inefficient responses of our elected leaders in addressing those deaths, in working as hard as they might to mitigate them. I thought, “This is what more people need, a dose of spirituality; moments to think of life’s values, life’s purpose, relationships, safety, doing good, a sense that there is something greater than self, a place where the whole is greater than the part, whether it be divine or human. Politicians should meet here.”
So much has been written about what spirituality is or can be. I am not the one to expand on those concepts. To me, spirituality is simply taking the time to think about who we are and the actions we are undertaking, and whether those actions are for the greater good.
Find a modest place. Take a moment. Therein, I think, I hope, you will find peace, fulfillment, and balance in the struggles and suffering in your life and those of so many others.
Think of others. You will be rewarded.
Dr. Ed Iannuccilli is the author of three popular memoirs, “Growing up Italian; Grandfather’s Fig Tree and Other Stories”, “What Ever Happened to Sunday Dinner” and “My Story Continues: From Neighborhood to Junior High.” NOW, he has written his fourth book “A Whole Bunch of 500 Word Stories.”