Bleeding Hearts


Whatever he needs, he has or doesn’t
have by now.
Whatever the world is going to do to him
it has started to do… 

…Whatever is
stored in his heart, he can use, now.
Whatever he has laid up in his mind
he can call on.  What he does not have
he can lack…

…Whatever his exuberant soul
can do for him, it is doing right now…

…Everything that’s been placed in him will come out, now, the contents of a trunk
unpacked and lined up on a bunk in the underpine light.
~Sharon Olds from “The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb”


This is the season for graduations, when children move into the adult world and don’t look back.

As a parent, as an educator, as a mentor within church and community, and over twenty seven years as a college health physician witnessing this transition many times over, I can’t help but be wistful about what I may have left undone and unsaid with the generation about to launch.   In their moments of vulnerability, did I pack enough love into their bleeding hearts so he or she can pull it out when it is most needed?

When our three children traveled the world after their graduations, moving way beyond the fenced perimeter of our little farm, I trust they left well prepared.

As a school board member, I watched students, parents and teachers work diligently together in their preparation for that graduation day, knowing the encompassing love behind each congratulatory hand shake.

When another batch of our church family children say goodbye, I remember holding them in the nursery, listening to their joyful voices as I played piano accompaniment in Sunday School, feeding them in innumerable potlucks over the years.  I pray we have fed them well in every way with enough spiritual food to stick to their ribs in the “thin” and hungry times.

When hundreds of my student/patients move on each year beyond our university and health clinic, I wish for their continued emotional growth buoyed by plenty of resilience when the road gets inevitably bumpy.

I believe I know what is stored in the hearts of graduates because I, among many others, helped them pack it full of love.   Only they will know the time to unpack their heart when their need arises.



One thought on “Bleeding Hearts

  1. This is beautiful, Emily, and so timely.
    Here is an excerpt from an (edited) letter I just received from my 25-year old grandson in N.C.:

    “Dear Grandma, Thank you for all you do for me. I find that words have a limited ability to express the amount you have done for me.
    On a different note, I have felt something missing in my life for a few months now and I was only able to put my finger on it about a week ago. My relationship with the Lord is at an all time low. I have been through trials and tribulations, all of which clouded my mind with doubt. However, recently I have been praying more and I find that the more I do the more answers I find. So now I have decided I want to start going to church, not only for my spiritual health, but I have also been lacking a sense of community….”

    He then asked me for some practical suggestions on how to select a church congregation, pastor, etc. The first thing, among others, that I said to him was to keep praying and to ‘go where your soul will be fed,’ expanding upon that a little.

    Praise and thanks to our faithful God, sometimes we do live long enough to see the results
    of the seeds that we have planted – not only for our children – but for other seekers as well
    as we travel on our Journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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