Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Oasis at St. Nazianz Part 2

I returned to the my church office next day after a night of dreaming about the old Catholic church and the other buildings I had seen--disturbing, defaced, broken relics of a bygone era.

I dreamed about beautiful stained glass windows, about St. George slaying a mythical dragon, about the wrecked library that had been built on one side and the long dorm that had been added much later.

I dreamed of how it must have looked when a group of monks worshipped there, organ music soaring to the vaulted ceiling, incense filling the air, and how it must have been years later when the JFK Prep School students were there.  I wondered about why the school building felt so intensely creepy. 

I wanted to go back to St. Nazianz, but I couldn't understand why. The place was sad, spooky, smelly and ruined. What would be the point?  Several times that night, I prayed, without quite knowing what I was praying about.

Next day, I told my administrative assistant, Honey, about the experience, adding that I hadn't slept well.  It made me deeply angry that such a beautiful place had been abandoned to the elements and vandals and gangs.  It still makes me angry as I recall the conversation.  It seemed wrong on some sort of deep level. It should, I felt somehow certain, be a place of blessings and good things.

Honey told me about the times the location had hosted Halloween parties, that it is rumored to be haunted, and then added that her daughter-in-law, Wendy, had been a student at JFK Prep.  I later talked to Wendy, who was sad that her alma mater was now, at best, just a hang out place for teens bent on mischief or a scare.

Unable to stop thinking about it, or wanting to return there (I didn't), I wondered what was wrong with me.  Come on, I reasoned with myself, it's just old buildings.  Okay, it really is too bad about those beautiful windows not being seen and appreciated.  From an artistic standpoint alone, someone should have done something.  But the church is not a building.  The church is people. That old place is just an abandoned building.   And it's not like you are even Catholic!  You are a Pentecostal preacher from the opposite end of the church spectrum.  You wouldn't have ever fit in worshipping there in any case.  Let it go.  End of story.

But I thought about the site of the abandoned JFK Prep School for at least a month.  I dreamed about it many times.  I felt almost compelled to go there again, and I consciously resisted.  Still, I prayed every day, sometimes several times a day, that something good would somehow happen there, that the beautiful location would be redeemed.  I prayed that if there was someone meant to change things, that they'd find out about the site and do something.

Later I heard that the woman who had purchased the property, who was reported to be a strange woman indeed, gave up and put it up for sale.  I forgot about it.  Mostly.

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