“This is another day, O Lord…
If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.
If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.
And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.”
— Kathleen Norris citing the Book of Common Prayer
This day is the wrap-up to my twenty-eighth academic year working as a college health physician, the most demanding so far. Despite budget challenges, inadequate staffing, a higher severity of illness in a patient population with burgeoning mental health needs, our staff did an incredible job this year serving students and their families with the resources we do have. Reaching this day today is poignant: we will miss the graduating students we have gotten to know so well over four or five years, we watch others leave temporarily for the summer, some to far away places around the globe, and we weep for those who have failed out, given up or fallen away from those who care deeply about them, some never to return to school again.
In my work I strive to do what is needed when it is needed no matter what time of the day or night. There are obviously times when I fall short– too vehement when I need to be quiet, too urgent and pressured when I need to be patient, too anxious to do something/anything when it is best to courageously do nothing. It is very difficult for any doctor to choose to do nothing but I vowed in my own graduation ceremony over forty years ago to “First do no harm.” And I’ve tried hard to live up to that vow.
In a sense I graduate as well on this last day of the school year– only not with cap and gown and diploma in hand. Each year I learn enough from each patient to fill volumes, as they speak of their struggles, their pain, their stories and sometimes hearing, most tragically, their forever silence.
I honor our students and their families on this day, sharing the blessings from us who work toward the goal of sending them healthier and better equipped and joyful into the rest of their lives.
It is not just another day.