A refuge for serenity and reflection

New Sanctuary

Inside the new Main building of the expanded Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford is a unique space with a big purpose. With its curving shape, floor-to-ceiling windows, warm décor, and mural, the hospital Sanctuary offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of a busy pediatric hospital—a space designed for serenity and reflection, reassurance and hope.

The Sanctuary is meant to be used by all ages and faith traditions, providing a quiet refuge for prayer, meditation, or worship, or simply a place to step away from the challenging realities of a hospital. The space is always open, so patients, families, and staff can attend to their own spiritual or religious practices and cultural rituals when they desire.

“The Sanctuary is a place for rest and renewal for people from all faiths,” said the Rev. Diana Brady, director of chaplaincy services for Stanford Children’s Health. “Our patients and families come from all over the world, bringing with them their own spiritual and cultural values, beliefs, and practices. Calling the space a sanctuary rather than a chapel is intentional: We wanted to promote a sense of welcome and emphasize that this space is for everyone.”

To accommodate diverse needs, chaplains from various faith traditions are available to all patients and families 24 hours a day, every day and the space includes prayer rugs and a subtle bronze inlay in the floor that points to Qibla, the direction of Mecca. The directions of the compass are also important to other beliefs, including Native American faiths. Padded chairs and couches can be moved to accommodate small groups or make room for a patient in a wheelchair or gurney. There is a small sink for ablutions and a room just inside the entrance for private gatherings. A nook holds texts from different faith traditions, and Rev. Brady said she plans to schedule regular worship services as well as a monthly time of remembrance for staff.

The Sanctuary, which is centrally located between the original hospital (West building) and the new Main building, reflects the sense of nature that pervades the entire setting. Glimmering overhead lights evoke stars or candlelight. A door opens directly into a quiet meditation garden that provides a backdrop of calmness and serenity for patients and visitors, with private niches and secluded alcoves framed by hedges for privacy and quiet. A labyrinth just outside the mediation garden creates a meandering spiral for walking meditation or spiritual practice, and a large bronze statue of a stylized parent and child serves a visual focal point.

“We are committed to the healing of the whole child—body, mind, and spirit—and the support of their families and our staff who care for them,” Rev. Brady said, adding that studies have shown that addressing patients’ spiritual needs reduces stress and aids healing. It also serves as a resource for families as they make sometimes-difficult health care decisions for their children or celebrate joyful occasions.

“The Sanctuary was beautifully designed to be very open, with garden spaces to embrace nature and provide healing views,” said Rev. Brady. “It will offer hospitality, hope, and healing, and speak to the spiritual needs of all who enter.”

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