Cathedrals…and Hospitals

I love cathedrals. As a college (and scholarship) student at Brown University I had the opportunity to sing in multiple English cathedrals on a summer tour that our chorus did. I devoured several books on the different types of cathedral architecture and can still try to think in those terms (transept, lady chapel, nave etc.) whenever I enter one of these powerful buildings.

In my book, “Sacred Trust: The Ten Rules of Life, Death, and Medicine”, I write in Chapter and Rule #8–“Hospitals Are WhyStations:” that “I love hospitals. I always have…So I will name you as cathedrals.” Because so many of our caring houses are given names that reference faith and a God.

Here in Mississippi we have St. Dominic’s Hospital and Baptist Hospital among other choices. No evangelizing or campaigning at any of our “Why Stations”—just excellent care.  And as always as I say in my book:  it starts with your doctor needing to “give a damn”.

I recently read an essay by a patient who had been waiting for same day surgery on a gurney and dressed in a silly patient “gown”, when a nurse came in who had ashes on her forehead. She introduced herself and her role and was kind, and then the anesthesiologist came in and did the same thing and also had ashes on his forehead…and then the patient heard outside the curtain someone saying “Did you get your ashes yet?” The patient wrote that he had forgotten it was Ash Wednesday but that being Catholic it was suddenly a great comfort to him to know that these were the kind of people who would be taking care of him. Not that he was expecting to be “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” as a result of his surgery—but rather that these people who held his life in their hands were humans connected to something larger than life.

Here are pictures of cathedrals that I have recently taken in Montreal and Quebec.

Architecture talks, doesn’t it? It even prays.