January 05, 2011

Neighborhood Markers

St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Piedmont now 100 years old

Churches played an important archi-tectural role in the develop-ment of American towns and cities.  Oftentimes, the church steeple was the highest tower reminding us of the sacred, with lower buildings paying deference to the sacred marker and the meaning of religion in daily life.  But then the 20th century changed things and skyscrapers became the symbol of success and power with architectural designs reaching into the heavens identifying industry as the new religion.  The old churches seemed minute as they were walled in by gargantuan growth. 

In the neighborhood where I’m staying, the church of St. Leo the Great is celebrating 100 years of service.  I pass it each day on my walks. The doors are locked so I haven’t been able to step inside, nor have I been tempted to venture in on Sunday when I do know it will be open.  Still, there is something comforting about its presence.  It speaks to spiritual values in everyday life.  It has an aura of quietude.  Its presence reminds that there is another dimension other than the to and fro hauling of purchases up and down the street.  It reminds of what it is to live in a ‘neighborhood’ with marks of identity that give a settled quality to a community.  It gives the feeling that everything is all right where we are and that there are people around who care about and support one another.

This is the feeling of this neighborhood, and it’s good to feel, good to experience.