The entrance to the Schlimm Center for Prayer and Reflection is a translucent door set between two curving walls. Just inside, a statue of a mother cradling her child greets visitors.
A little further down the curving wall to the left is the sacred space itself. The sound of running water, constant as it is, somehow only makes the Center feel quieter, peaceful.
Any time of day or night, you might find a parent here, a nurse, a relative of a patient or a professional caring for that patient, or maybe all.
A space like this — calm, reverent — is a welcome respite for anyone facing the reality of severely ill children, whether every day with many children or for a more limited time with one's own.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was one of the first hospitals in the country to approach caring for children by also caring for their families and by seeing that all of their needs are met, whether medical, developmental or spiritual.
A welcoming sacred space for all families
A quarter of a century ago, Children's Hospital opened a chapel to help families with the spiritual aspect of healing. Last year, two sisters gave a significant gift to see that space renovated, leading to the Schlimm Center for Prayer and Reflection, a multicultural sacred space striving to welcome and support people of any faith in times of great need.
"Families need all of the support they can get," said Loraine and Roxanna Schlimm, who made the renovations possible through their generosity. "We know in difficult times both families and Children's Hospital employees may really need a place to meditate, to talk to the Lord for help, peace and comfort, as the Center will now provide."
To ensure that solace is available to all who enter, regardless of their religious beliefs, the Center incorporates universal elements, such as the flowing water and soft lighting.
"The Center's ceiling incorporates the divine geometry known as the Fibonacci series," said Nathan Heckman, renovation project manager. "This series is seen throughout nature, such as in a nautilus shell, and is symbolic of the universal feeling we are trying to convey through design."
Offering peace and comfort
Schlimm Chaplain Jack Rodgers, DMin, along with Sister Alice Edward, spends more hours than anyone in the space comforting families and his Children's Hospital colleagues. He sees the Center as open to all.
"Whatever their needs or beliefs, this is a place of harbor and comfort," he says
At the January dedication of the renovated Center, Loraine Schlimm gave thoughtful, moving remarks, speaking also for her sister, who remained seated in the audience.
"Our prayer is that everyone who goes to this Center will take the peace of this space with them."