Mercy Park

After a fun and full weekend, I felt like taking a stroll today at sunset. This time of year, the air loses its heat as the sun sinks in the west. I longed for beauty and fresh air and reflection. 

Yesterday the city of Joplin opened a new park. I’ve driven by this development almost daily for months, watching as the park took shape. This evening I wanted to visit Mercy Park and walk around the small, newly created lake. 

Five years ago this land was part of the St John’s Hospital complex. On May 22, 2011 the hospital was in the path of the massive tornado that swept through Joplin. The hospital was destroyed, along with much of the medical community. 

The hospital, renamed Mercy, rebuilt in a new location south of Joplin. They donated the land to the city. A new elementary school was built on the southern section, to replace two that were lost. The second project was a pavilion atop a knoll, situated in the exact spot that the hospital chapel once occupied. Phase three has been the construction of Mercy Park, complete with a walking trail, a lake, fountains and benches placed strategically to enjoy the view and invite quiet reflection. 

It was, indeed, a gorgeous evening for a walk in a new location. Other people had the same idea. Greg joined me and we shared the walking path with joggers and kids and young couples pushing strollers. My eyes were drawn repeatedly to the water, with its twin fountains sending water high into the air. And to the red sun as it sank into a bank of thunderheads to the west. 

After walking the loop, including the bridges that span the water, we climbed the stairs to Mercy Chapel. It was serene there, and the view was spectacular. Lights were coming on across the city as darkness fell. Below was the newly opened park and across the street, the beautifully reborn Cunningham Park with its playgrounds and memorials. 

I enjoyed walking at Mercy Park. There is still work to be completed. And a butterfy mural will soon adorn a large wall. But what a gorgeous place…beauty from ashes, a sanctuary of healing again. I will return here often. 

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