The Land of Beginning Again

by Sandy Johnson, Network Director Patient Experience

When I was growing up, my father often quoted a poem at the start of a new year, The Land of Beginning Again, written by poet and author Louise Fletcher in 1911. She wrote it after a time of severe loss and upheaval. Here are two stanzas from the poem:

I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.

We would find all the things we intended to do
But forgot, and remembered too late
Little praises unspoken, little promises broken
And all of a thousand and one
Little duties neglected that might have perfected
The day for one less fortunate

Following the holiday season, many patients in our hospitals and outpatient services are heavy-hearted. They will need great kindness and empathy from us, as well as our full attention to quality and safety. Remember when you are with patients, listen carefully to their stories, smile, give choices, and respond quickly to their requests. Explain what you are doing and why, and stop to consider whether they feel safe in your care.

This year, we will be listening in very intentional ways, to the wisdom and ideas of our patients and families. They have much they can teach us.

Every day, there is a place of beginning again. You have the power to make a difference in someone’s life in every interaction. Wrap a “blanket” of caring and safety around them. This is your sacred work.

January 8, 2014