When to be Glad



Well I know now the feel of dirt under the nails,
I know now the rhythm of furrowed ground under foot,
I have learned the sounds to listen for in the dusk,
the dawning and the noon.

I have held cornfields in the palm of my hand,
I have let the swaying wheat and rye run through my fingers,
I have learned when to be glad for sunlight and for sudden
thaw and for rain.

I know now what weariness is when the mind stops
and night is a dark blanket of peace and forgetting
and the morning breaks to the same ritual and the same
demands and the silence.
~Jane Tyson Clement from No One Can Stem the Tide


Soon to arrive, a wave of 15,000 young people
with such potential to grow,
their health needs entrusted to us
as if we tend them as gardeners:
most thriving and flourishing,
yet some already withering,
their roots thirsting.

As the winds of time bring
new thousands to our care,
blown in from places unknown,
I weary weep for those who may not bloom,
wondering if I will fail to water or care enough~

or is it me with thirst unceasing,
my roots drying from each new morning’s
same ritual and same demands unceasing,
as if I’ve forgotten how to be glad for this work,
being met with the silence
of my own gardeners.




4 thoughts on “When to be Glad

  1. A beautiful back to school/work reflection. Thanks for this timely poem. Susan Bezecny Pediatrician in California

    Sent from my iPad


  2. I also feel weary from the unceasing demands as a nurse, physically, emotionally & spiritually. I also feel my roots drying at times & need to drink deep from the river of life and be reminded it is our calling. Then, we will get up tomorrow and do it all over again.


  3. from Marge Piercy’s “To Be of Use” :
    “…The pitcher cries for water to carry
    and a person for work that is real.”

    And the caretakers need care too.


  4. Emily, your words are poignant and honest, reflecting your innate sense of caring and responsibility. Your connection with the growing soil of the earth and your respect for our fragile environment have given you special insight into all ‘growing’ things. It is obvious that you have inculcated that into your profession.

    I recall that, more than once, I have referred to the ‘seeds’ that you plant each day of your life – in your healing profession, your family, community, and this blog. I am thinking here, specifically, of Jesus’ Parable of the Sower and the Seed. What it says to me is that we must be prepared that not all the seeds we plant will flourish and produce. We are meant to plant the seeds – in faith and in trust, aware that some of them will fail to produce due to circumstances far beyond our knowledge and control — especially in the times in which we now live, when we are constantly assaulted by spiritual warfare and our basic moral values are questioned and held to ridicule. It helps to remember, then, that our job is to plant the seeds, never knowing for certain if they will germinate and flourish. That is within the province of the Master Gardner who will complete the job that we began.

    Any temporary feelings of disappointment and discouragement on your part as a physician would be natural in your daily ministrations as you deal with
    physical diseases, emotional damage, and the frustration and loneliness of your young patients as they seek meaning and direction for their lives and their place in the world that they will soon be inheriting. It is a heavy burden for them, some of whom may be without rootedness. You know. You confront it every day.

    I pray that our omniscient Lord in His love and mercy will give you the strength to carry on, to resist the inevitable ‘burnout’ that lurks in every helping profession that deals with people in need.


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