A Vespers for these times…May 3,2020


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.


First Words:

May 3.  The very first Sunday in the month of May.  In many parts of the world, May is a very appealing month—warm, green, blooming flowers, softer breezes, hints of the growing months ahead.  Certainly May includes all of these elements here at camp.  This week’s Vespers will be full of May’s delights.

Sing: “Green Grow the Rushes, O!” (with special reminder to the second-year staff who traveled to Spain a few years back where the song was learned accurately!). For us today, it is a song about the greening of our part of the world!

I’ll sing you one, O,

Green grow the rushes, O!

What is your one, O?

One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so!

You know how it goes!

Two, two, the lily-white boys,

Clothed all in green, O.

Three, three, the rivals!

Four for the Gospel makers!

Five for the symbols at your door!

Six for the six proud walkers.

Seven for the seven stars in the sky.

Eight for the April Rainers.

Nine for the nine bright shiners.

Ten for the ten commandments.

Eleven for the eleven who went to heaven.

Twelve for the Twelve Apostles

And…One is one and all alone, and ever more shall be so!

Poem: “Spring” by Mary Oliver


a black bear

has just risen from sleep

and is staring

down the mountain.

All night

in the brisk and shallow


of early spring

I think of her,

her four black fists

flicking the gravel,

her tongue

like a red fire

touching the grass,

the cold water.

There is only one question:

how to love this world.

I think of her


like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against

the silence

of the trees.

Whatever else

my life is

with its poems

and its music

and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness


down the mountain,

breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—

her white teeth,

her wordlessness,

her perfect love.

Sing: “White Coral Bells”—a favorite spring wildflower here!  Teach the round to someone in your family circle who doesn’t know it yet!

White coral bells upon a slender stalk.

Lilies of the Valley deck my garden walk.

Oh, don’t you wish, that you could hear them ring.

That will happen only when the fairies sing.


Virtual Visit to Early Spring at Camp BC! Tell everyone participating in this Vespers with you where each of these photos is!  Do you know?

Sing:  “Morning Has Broken”—old Gaelic hymn, adjusted

Morning has broken, like the first morning.

Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.

Priase for the singing, praise for the morning.

Praise for the springing fresh from the Earth.

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven.

Like the first dew fall on the first grass.

Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,

Sprung in completeness where your feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning.

Born of the one light Eden saw play.

Praise with elation, praise every morning,

Earth’s re-creation of the new day.


You know…springtime touches every single one of our senses.  Here at camp each day brings more seasonal delights.  Sight, of course, is probably the most obvious of the senses to name.  The archery field is now bright green.  Soon (and you will see the photo on Instagram) it will be covered with beautiful dandelions.  Who ever called them a weed?  They have a very short season and they are amazing in their ability to cover every square inch of the field in a matter of days.  Then there’s the soft green froth of the woods, soon to be the brighter green of full-blown leaves.  There’s the wild flowers, the planted flowers like the daffodils in the Farmhouse front yard.  The pond shines like a bright-blue mirror and it’s oh so enticing to think of leaping in!

There are sounds of spring, too, sometimes beginning altogether too early in the morning!  Birds begin welcoming the new day at about 5:30 a.m. these days—when the sun rises.  There are so many birds around that really, it is a bird symphony with every single species knowing its part!  Then there’s the chipmunks and squirrels crunching through the dry leaves of an earlier season.  Many days there’s the sound of Ed and Yvonne down at Right Mind Farm, plowing the soil and putting in their annual seedlings.  There’s Steve’s chain saw cleaning up wind-blown downed trees and stacking the wood beneath the lodge and the cabins.  Good sounds all around.

Smells?  Well….the smell of fresh-plowed gardens and newly mown grass will soon fill the air.  Lilacs will bloom soon.  Their smell is tantalizing.  In the early mornings, yes…the smell of wood smoke as Vermonters take the chill out of their homes and their bones for just a few more mornings.

What can be said about touch in the spring?  Touch an emerging fern!  Down by Pico there are so many!  Some are fiddle-heads with a downy covering to their tasty green stalk.  How about the cool, damp feeling of the earth on the first bare-foot walk of the season?  Oooh!  The first toe-dip into Burr Pond.  THAT is a touch feeling one will remember!

Taste?  Yes!  Fiddle-head ferns!  Yes!  The first rhubarb pie made from the prolific plant in our very own camp garden!  Yes!  Even the first taste of the camp water as we turn it on in early May!  Yes!  Dandelion-greens salad!  Elaine would have a recipe!

Where ever you are in these times, thinking about how senses are all heightened at camp will ignite your memory of sensory delights you’ve experienced in your own time here.  It feels good to tell those stories to people around you.  Memories made are the stuff that makes us stronger!

You know…. as the season turns to spring,  we should acknowledge the commitment our earth makes to us, the commitment to do what seasons require without being reminded of obligation or responsibility.   In New England spring will follow winter, summer will follow spring, glorious fall follows summer and crisp white winters end the cycle—temporarily.  Without a nudge from us, the cycle will begin and begin and begin again.  That is a privilege we should acknowledge.

There are environments on our planet, as we all know, that are stressed, with populations of people, animals and plants that struggle.  In those cases, could it be that we should look within ourselves to figure out ways to help the planet achieve balance and health?  Going forward, at Camp Betsey Cox, we pledge to do just that.

Sing: Modified from the old hymn “This Is My Father’s World”

This is our special world.

And to my list’ning ears.

All nature sings, and round me rings,

The music of the spheres.

This is our special world:

I rest me in the thought.

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,

Such wonders these may be.

This is our special work:

The birds their carols raise.

The morning beam, the lily white,

Declare their wonderous light.

This is our special world:

It shines in all that’s fair.

In the rustling grass, as I do pass,

Earth is so wonderous fair.


Last Thought—for your imagination!

who knows if the moon’s

a balloon, coming out of a keen city

In the sky—filled with pretty people?

(and if you and I should

get into it, they

should take me and take you into their


why then

we’d go up higher with all the pretty


than houses and steeples and clouds:

go sailing

away and away sailing into a keen

city which nobody’s ever visited, where


it’s Spring) and everyone’s

in love and flowers pick themselves

                                  -e.e. cummings

Moment of Silence

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







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