After my appointments today at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Steve and I spent two hours sitting in the lobby of Mayo’s Gonda Building where we listened to Jane Belau play the grand piano for passersby. We’d seen her play before and enjoyed the music, but today was different.
We took the time to sit. To watch people. To listen, to think, and to connect.
We met an elderly woman who lives four blocks from the clinic and has a multitude of health issues. She told me that when the doctors can’t help her anymore, she comes here for music therapy. She’s been coming every week for the past eight years.
We watched a tiny little girl, who knew no English, leave the hand and security of her father and walk past a group of strangers to sit on the piano bench and play a few notes.
We visited with a WWII vet and lover of Gershwin who was now in a wheelchair and shared a story about the time he convinced Doris Day to dance with him by telling her he was going into combat the next day.
We heard from a Filipino woman who said she works upstairs, but when she’s off duty, she sits in a chair in the lobby and prays for people passing by.
We admired Tom, whom I was told works in surgery at Mayo, as he sang love songs from the balcony of the foyer. And we sat amazed when parents with seemingly sick children strolled by and grown men and women stopped what they were doing and united in singing “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” in an effort to cheer them up.
At one point, a man walking to his chemotherapy appointment stopped in his tracks and straightened up a bit when the piano player noticed his Navy cap and played “Anchors Aweigh.” He nodded and smiled.
It was especially emotional to watch a young boy with special needs walk out into an empty space in the foyer and begin to move his body to the notes of “I Could Have Danced All Night,” sung by clinic staff who were using their lunch breaks to encourage others. A woman with a headscarf joined him for the dance, while his mom watched from the distance with a smile on her face and a tear on her cheek.
Just as we were leaving, another Mayo Clinic associate joined in and sang “You Raise Me Up.”
As I looked around I saw men and women. The young and the old. I saw people pushing wheelchairs and others pushing strollers. I saw people in suits and sweats and burkas and yarmulkes. There were people walking briskly and people who could barely walk.
As we sat listening to the music, I was reminded that sickness knows no boundaries — in one way or another, it impacts us all. I am thankful today for my life, my family, my health, the means to be treated, and most importantly, for a God who continually lifts me up and renews my strength through experiences like the one I had today.