Here is a place of peace and soaring beauty.
Hospitals have a clinical utilitarianism about them. Mayo is more like a dignified luxury hotel: vast sunny atriums, plazas, fine furniture, exquisite art, marble, and highly polished surfaces. It’s a work of excellence and visual deliciousness, inviting you in.
Step outside and the grandeur continues. Massive but not imposing, the campus invites you to linger. Even though it’s in the downtown core, there’s an insulation from the hustle and noise just beyond.
Surveying the scene, like a benevolent monarch overseeing his kingdom, the original Mayo Clinic building (1927) brings mystique and groundedness, pointing back to beginnings, reminding everyone of the grandeur of earlier days with its brass, brick, stone, and inlaid marble. As your eyes attempt to take it all in, suddenly the ears are awash in healing soothing sounds from the building’s carillon bells. It all conspires to make you want to stay for a year and soak it in.
I know nothing about the Mayo brothers, Charles and Will, but now I am intrigued. What fire was in their bones to leave such a profound legacy? To how many hundreds of thousands have they and their clinic brought healing and hope? What kind of lives inspired the stubborn determination that keeps the Clinic on mission all these years?
But it is also an odd place.
Nowhere have I seen so many wheelchairs. Never have I seen so many people in various stages of lowered vitality, most being formerly strong men, tended by their wives or sons and daughters.
This place of luxury and architectural majesty cocoons people pale and frail, weak and wobbly. They stream in all day.
And there’s one reason. Every soul is fighting against that inevitable mortality. We march enexorably toward it, but we resist it, traveling cross country, if need be, to extend a few more years.
So it’s odd. Bodies that are breaking down in decline, surrounded by the best man can do (and what he can do is often stunning) in the hope of slowing the breakdown. That God-given will for life is usually intractable. But one day it will give up, and each of us will pass to eternal life or eternal separation from the Giver of Life.
I have recently become more deeply acquainted with my own mortality. But on this mortal earth, I already love the place and mission of Mayo Clinic. The mission of healing is a Christ mission.