The town I live in is becoming well-known for several attributes simultaneously. There are several micro brews that have gained national attention, earning us the title “beer town”. ArtPrize and, more notably with great gratitude to the philanthropic spirit of a few key families, Grand Rapids has become a medical hub of pioneering medical research and healing. There is a location on the crest of a ridge that banks the east side of downtown, now know as the miracle mile.
The most recent addition to the gathering of healing and hope is the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Included in this structure is a bridge that spans the major traffic artery to the complex. At first glance the bridge looks like just another effort on the architects behalf to celebrate the architecture for the sake of architecture… a funky looking twisted piece of blue bubble-gum, stretched between the two buildings as some final definitive statement that must have haunted the engineers.
However…during my most recent monthly check up at Lemmon-Holton (an adjoining building), my wife and I had some time in-between procedures. So we wandered through the maze of corridors until we found the bridge. My opinion instantly switched from “why” to “whoa”.
Proceeding through the structure diverted my thoughts from test results and maintaining hope, to wonder and fascination about the view, curiosity and intrigue on how they created this island of diversion and whose initial intention must have been to get people across Michigan Street safely but in doing so allow people to cross over from introspection and fear to sun load and being in the moment, right here, right now.
There was even a few parents with their kids sitting in the structure, collecting their thoughts and having quite conversations. Somewhere in the chaos of this structure there is a deep and solidifying moment of peace. Ether by intention or by defacto… it doesn’t really matter. It’s a place you want to return to. As any parent knows, being at a children’s hospital is a challenge that tests your strengths, what you know about yourself, your spouse, and your faith. That fact that you are there creates enough anxiety to find any place you can escape… if only to cross a few bridges from here… to there… and back again.