Our Town: Williston Parks proves statue-esque

Dr Tom Ferraro

Ode to the Statues of Williston Park

Williston Park does not have an Eiffel Tower to marvel at.  Nor do we have a statue of David as in Florence. 

But if you want to take a local pilgrimage you will be able to find an interesting piece of art to meditate upon.  

Just take a walk to the St. Francis of Assisi Prayer Garden to the right of St. Aidan’s Church. The statue was donated by Lucille Finamore back on May 16, 2004 so its 10th anniversary is coming up. 

St. Francis was an ascetic who was born into a wealthy family but after a childhood of fun filled pleasure he became drawn to the ascetic life which renounces worldly pleasure but instead chooses the discipline of denial, meditation and teaching. He is known as the patron saint of animals. 

Other well-known ascetics include Jesus Christ, Mother Theresa and Buddha. An ascetic will choose to  leave behind family, possessions and the comfort and safety home to lead a mendicant life with its vow of poverty and helping the poor. 

The qualities of these saints include love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  It is a very difficult life style and similar to many professional and elite athletes who lead unbelievably  self-disciplined lives. 

As a sport psychologist I have worked with many figure skaters, gymnasts and swimmers who get up and are in training at 5:30 a.m. every day.   

Tiger Woods is one of the most self-disciplined athletes I know. He is running his six miles a day by 6 a.m. every day and then he goes to the gym for three hours before he gets to the golf course.  

He would allow himself to indulge in four MacDonald’s hamburgers only after he won a tournament.  

Of course he lost control in his personal life but his professional life was pure Spartan. 

I attend yoga classes twice weekly at Bikram Yoga Roslyn and this is another ascetic practice.  

You must deal with 26 difficult poses for 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees.  P.S. It is the most satisfying thing I do all week. 

So what can one learn by meditating upon the statue St. Francis of Assisi?  

We could all use a little more ascetic life style. Though this attitude is incredibly out of vogue it is also true that most of us are overweight and over indulgent. I know I am. 

This puts our looks, our health and our personal finances at risk. We are a country of anti-ascetics. I think statues of saints are  put up there for a reason.  

This statue reminds us to be a little more disciplined about things. Furthermore in a world occupied by far too many amoral or immoral CEO’s we would do well to meditate on and to worship more saintly and more ethical people. Like the Girl Scout moms I wrote about last week.

How about a few statues of all those  parents who have the discipline to cook meals each night for the kids and the ones who work so hard and come home each night, pay the mortgage and the college tuition? 

There is certainly something saintly and holy and divine about them too. 

Maybe the next statue we need is one of a mother or a father walking along somewhere pushing a baby carriage with another two kids in tow. Good idea!  

But I wonder who would pay for that commission?  

Maybe one of the local banks in town. We do so many of them. 

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