Scrub and Sing

by Elouise

just whistle while you work large

Here’s a happy follow-up to yesterday’s post. I’m guessing Amy Carmichael and I are not of similar temperaments when it comes to heavy daily burdens. Maybe you can identify with this poem better than I can! My comments follow.

Scrub and Sing

I scrub my pots, I scrub my pans;
I scrub my brasses and my cans;
I sweep and scrub each red floor tile
Till I can see it smile.

And as I scrub, I feel so gay
It might be my own Coming-day;
For work is such a jolly thing
It makes one want to sing.

Amy Carmichael, Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael, p. 403. © 1999, The Dohnavur Fellowship, published by Christian Literature Crusade. First published in Kohila, 1939

Two comments:

First, I don’t know what Amy means by her “Coming-day.”
Nonetheless, it sounds like an important and happy event at which she would be honored. Then again, she’s writing in the context of her home for rescued and at-risk children in South India. Perhaps “my own Coming-day” refers to the day a young child first comes to live at Dohnavur and is welcomed into the family?

This brings to mind the women at Dawn’s Place where I volunteer. They’ve been trafficked and prostituted for commercial sex. Dawn’s Place offers them a way out. It isn’t magic. It involves months of intensive therapy, education and goal-setting. A heavy burden if you think about the whole package all at once.

Nonetheless, when a new woman arrives at Dawn’s Place, women residents and staff greet her at the front door with joy, open arms and a party-like atmosphere. The work of recovery is indeed long and hard, yet this first day at Dawn’s Place is a homecoming for a woman who thought she had no home left in this world.

Imagine it. Now she has a home and a glimpse of a future she never dreamed she would have. In this context, hard work is also sheer joy. The joy of pinching oneself and finding it’s true. I’m here. I’m not there anymore. I’m not trapped in hopelessness, controlled by others, forced into situations that bring me nothing but grief and shame.

Maybe Amy had something like that in mind. I don’t know, but I’d like to think it’s so.

Second, I love the sing-song rhythm of this poem.
It begs for a tune! In fact, it’s so child-like, I wonder whether Amy wrote it not just for herself, but for the children at Dohnavur who completed chores as part of their contribution to the community. If so, did this poem have music? Maybe not, but I can imagine it happening.

My mind goes to Diane, my Sister #3 who died in 2006 after ten years of living with ALS. I can imagine her and anyone else affected by ALS and other debilitating diseases singing this. Happy as a lark to be able to move around and do such ‘menial’ tasks as these.

And then there’s God—and God’s work of creation. Imagine God taking a shapeless form and transforming it into a world. A welcoming garden. A hospitable dwelling place. An interconnected ecosystem in which everything and every creature plays its part no matter how small or ‘pretty’ in our eyes. Surely our Creator was singing and whistling while working, imagining the way all of this would look on the seventh day—Sabbath.

Is there a happy tune out there that would fit the rhythms of this poem? Any ideas, anybody?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 July 2015
Image from