The kids and I went to a good, old-fashioned Sunday morning worship service today— complete with singing, the 23rd Psalm, poetry and a piece by Garrison Keillor about some serious retribution for a wayward organist. It was a celebration of over 70 years of worship on Sand Island and as the group sang their way through The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Morning has Broken and Throw Out the Lifeline, I (being the tone-deaf non-singer that I am) found a Prayer for a Camper, taped to the inside cover of the hymnal. It's a beautiful testament to the importance of carrying the wisdom, strength, quiet and humility of the wilderness into our daily lives. A fitting testament to the generations of people who called Sand Island home (at least for the summer) and everyone else who finds the Divine in birdsong, a field of flowers, a night sky riddled with starlight or a stand of cedars.
Prayer of a Camper
God of the hills, grant me strength to go back to the cities without faltering: Strength to do my daily tasks without tiring, and with enthusiasm; Strength to help my neighbor who has no hills to remember.
God of the lake, grant me thy peace and thy restfulness: Peace, to bring into a world of hurry and confusion; Restfulness, to carry to the tired ones that I shall meet every day; Contentment, to do small things, with a freedom from littleness; Self-control, for the unexpected emergency; Patience, for the wearisome task.
God of the Desert Canyons, warm my heart; Bake courage into my bones: Carve deep clefts within my soul; To hear through crowded places, the hush of the nighttime; To let in shafts of sunlight to brighten the cheerless corners of a long winter.
God of the Stars and Moon, may I take back the gift of friendship, of life for all: Fill me with awe and compassion; Fill me with a great tenderness for the needy person, at every turn. Grant that in all my perplexities and everyday decisions, I may keep an open mind, like the spacious night sky.
God of the Wilderness, with thy pure wind from the northland, drive away my pettiness; With harsh winds of the winter, drive away selfishness and hypocrisy; Fill me with the breadth and depths and heights of the wilds, When pine trees are dark against the skyline; Help me recall the humbleness of the hills, who in their mightiness know it not.
May I live the truth thou hast taught me, in every thought, and word, and deed.