“So we were essentially dilettantes, I and the other students who worked part-time in the East Harlem Protestant Parish, up and coming dabblers in the down-and-out. We came, and we left, and in the end we left for good and were glad to. But there were others, the regular parish staff, who gave their lives to it. They didn’t just work with the poor. They lived with them. They made their homes in the same kind of tenements. They ate the same kind of food. They raised their children there and sent them to the same schools. Their backgrounds were more or less what mine had been. They were educated, resourcesful, attractive people, who, you felt, if success had been what they were after, could have been successful virtually anywhere. But they had put this all behind them for a life whose rewards seemed to me as inward and obscure as its penalties seemed blatant and grim. I am sure that their motives were as mixed as everbody else’s and that they were as full of shadows as the rest of us. There were times when you couldn’t escape the feeling that, no matter how hard they fought against it, they thought of themselves as a kind of spiritual elite and of all other types of Christian service as comparatively irrelevant. There were times when their lightness of heart seemed forced and artificial and when their total immersion in the life of the ghetto seemed to border on the perverse. There were occasional glimpses of bitterness, envy, dissemblance among them, and some of them obviously rang truer than others. But be that all as it may, they neverlessess seemsed, at their best, closer to being saints than any other people I had ever come across; and the quality of their saintness, the face it wore, the effect it produced, struck me as revealing something not only about themselves but about Christ, whose saints they were.” (>>)