A Vespers for these times…April 5,2020


Hark the Vesper bell is pealing, o’er the meadow soft and green

Nearer now and nearer stealing, soft it breaks upon my ear.

Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen.  Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen.



I would be true, for there are those who trust me;

I would be pure, for there are those who care;

I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;

I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend, of all—the foe, the friendless;

I would be giving, and forget the gift;

I would be humble, for I know my weakness;

I would look up, and laugh and love, and lift.

I would look up, and laugh and love, and lift.


    I WORRIED – Mary Oliver  

I worried a lot.  Will the garden grow, will the rivers

flow in the right direction, will the earth turn

as it was taught, and if not how shall

I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,

Can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows

can do it and I am, well,


Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,

Am I going to get rheumatism,

lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

and gave it up.  And took my old body

and went out into the morning.

And sang.

SING: ” This is the Sound of One Voice”

This is the sound of one voice,

One spirit, One voice.

The sound of one who has made a choice

This is the sound of one voice,

This is the sound of one voice.

This is the sound of voices two

The sound of me, singing with you

Helping each other to make it through.

This is the sound of voices two.

This is the sound of voices two.

This is the sound of voices three.

Singing together in harmony.

Surrendering to the mystery.

This is the sound of voices three,

This is the sound of voices three.

This is the sound of all of us,

Singing with love and the will to trust

Leave the rest behind it will turn to dust.

This is the sound of all of us, this the sound of all of us.

This is the sound of one voice.

One spirit, one voice.

The sound of one who has made a choice.,

This is the sound of one voice,

This is the sound of one voice.


Last week, there was a ZOOM meeting of Vermont camp directors.  The meeting was a chance for us all to share strategies for the upcoming summer.  One camp director said that all week she had been thinking about how well camp prepares us all for challenges, including  the one we are all living through now. I was grateful for her comment and found myself thinking about her point for the rest of the week.

There is a lot to feel grateful about!  As I began to think about this Vespers, I wanted to choose songs, poems and thoughts that bring into sharp focus how camp has prepared me for these challenges. I Would Be True  Jean Davies, founder of Camp Betsey Cox, taught this song to those of us in attendance from the very first year of camp.  It is a song that lists so many of the values that make our camp community the special place that it is.  Mary Oliver’s poem “I Worried” with the final line being “And sang”.  The place of music at BC is secure and at the top of what’s important.  We can sing ourselves into any number of moods from the sublime to the ridiculous (think the Prune Song, or A Ram Sam Sam).  And This is the Sound of One Voice, a song that builds from the strength of an individual into the power of a group of people.  That’s camp!  Each individual brings strength, diversity, unique perspectives and their own sense of fun.

At the end of most summers, I have been the lucky recipient of a number of presents, often made by the staff and STAF.  One summer the present was a beautiful small BC woodshop box with a little heart attached to its side.  It was brimming with comments about camp from that summer’s group of staff/STAF.  As I thought this week about how camp prepares people for challenges, including the one that we are living through now, I decided to reopen that box.  I keep it on my bedside table for those days when I need a good boost of camp energy.  Inside were messages that I choose to pass on to each of you today, as a reminder of how well prepared you really are to meet the challenges of each day ahead.  Here they are. Some are quotes from people we all admire while others are the words of staff themselves.   I am leaving off the names of the staff who wrote them as I have not asked nor received permission to share them.  But I am as sure as you are that they would be happy to have them out there for all of us.


“Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh the things you can think if only you try.”   

-Dr. Seuss

 “Camp is embedded into everything I do and think.  Every summer I come, I’m shaped into a better version of myself.  Thanks (to camp) for showing me what pure kindness can achieve.  Camp is the happiest part of my heart.”   

-BC staff member

 “I owe so much of the confident, outspoken woman I am today to experiences at camp.”

– BC staff member

  “Camp is a magical place where everyone is able to learn and grow no matter what stage of life they are in.”                 -BC staff member

   “Camp helps people open their imaginations and themselves to other people and to create spaces for them to belong to.”- BC staff member

Yes…all that.  And a few more thoughts.  Think about those rainy mornings when you lie in your bunk with the soft sound of the raindrops on the wooden roof above.  Yes!  An extra half hour of sleep!  And yes….all that you thought you were going to do last night is now on the shelf.  A new plan must be solidified.  At camp we learn to be flexible—going with a new plan is as comfortable as knowing exactly what you were going to do before the rain!

And yes….friendships.  Through these days in our separate homes, and thanks to our ability to keep relationships intact by internet, the friendships camp gives us time to build can continue to build and to sustain us.   They are often THE most important lifelong ones.  My best camp friend and I have stayed in touch for so many years!  Without seeing her for many of them, we still know exactly how we would feel about situations.  We still feel sustained by all that laughing we did late at night, much to the dismay of the Bleaks.

Camp helps us learn to think and helps us find our voices!  Remember last summer’s morally courageous talks by the first-years.  I will bet you can.  And your sense of your own ability to stand and talk about things that are important to you grows when you hear each person deliver her speech.

Camp gives us songs that inspire, songs to make us laugh, songs to leave us in tears at the end of the summer.  I hope, where ever you are in these days of being away, that you are singing in the shower, singing in your living room, singing camp songs to remember your strength, your friends, the paths through the woods at camp, and all those peaceful times that bring us rest.

I would like to close this Vespers with one of my favorite songs that I like to have us all sing on July 4.  It’s called FINLANDIA.  Camp Betsey Cox is a camp that acknowledges, nurtures and celebrates the whole of our planet and everyone of its cultures.

I know that these reminders about how camp has supported  you in these challenging days will help you in the days ahead.  I am so glad of that!



This is my song O God of all the nations.

A song of peace, for lands afar and mine.

This is my home the country where my heart is.

Here are my hopes, my dreams my holy shrine.

But other hearts in other lands are beating

With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.


My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean.

And sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.

But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,

And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.

Oh, hear my song, thou God of all the nations

A song of peace, for their land and for mine.


“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead. ”   -Louisa May Alcott


Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen.  Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen.




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