Our local 63-bed hospital announced plans to expand! It is adding a state-of-the-art emergency room. Many in our community are upset. These are generally not folk who are hostile to change but they are averse to changing beautiful landscape. I have been the recipient of several “stop this growth” emails. As a self-identified liberal - a tree hugger - people automatically identify me as one who will protest cutting down trees on our town’s main street to retain the stately nature of the main thoroughfare.
I live two blocks from the hospital and drive by the trees and manicured grounds daily. I would love to be part of saving these trees. Since they are part of my new home community, I have taken pictures of them for my kids and others so they could better see what my community is like. The trees are an awesome tribute to those who planned our community more than 100 years ago -- these may have been citizens who sought beauty in what might have been Pennsylvania coal country. They do offer that promised beauty and a park-like atmosphere for those of us who walk around the community. These trees nourish my soul on bleak days, offer shade from the unrelenting summer sun even as they provide a place of quiet solitude for the family suffering a long wait for news of how loved ones are faring inside the walls. For these reasons, I love the trees and the park atmosphere.
On the other hand, the addition of an emergency rooms equipped to care for a dying child or the stroke of a father or the gun-shot accident that happened while cleaning one of the ubiquitous guns I see perched on the back window of pickup trucks cannot be all bad. The addition of this new technology offers hope to individuals who otherwise might have had to be air lifted to a hospital one to two to three hours away from those who love them. The addition of this emergency room will provide a room for children to use as they sit through long waits and it will provide sufficient accommodations for adults who too sit long hours. In this new addition, I do not see my soul being fed – I see my soul being saved. What I also see is my health being guarded, my life being protected.
One hundred years from now when this addition has more than served its purpose and plans are announced to remove it, I hope that a blogger will write about how this emergency room addition offered solace and comfort and life-saving to a community that had vision enough to go ahead and build despite some opposition. Speaking as a sociologist, I understand that society does not like change. Speaking now as a Theologist, I remember that Moses led a people who did not want change into change. I always remember that that community grew into the change it so feared. I expect we will, too.