A Vespers for these times…

Hark! The Vesper bell is pealing, o'er the meadow soft and green.

In these unique and challenging times, several Betsey Cox community members have yearned for a camp vespers.  In response, here is an online early spring vespers to support you until we are “altogether again”.  May it take you back to the place and community that sustains us all.

HARK THE VESPER BELL IS PEALING, O’ER THE MEADOW SOFT AND GREEN.  NEARER NOW AND NEARER STEALING, SOFT IT BREAKS UPON MY EARS.                                                                                                                                               JUBILATE, JUBILATE, JUBILATE, AMEN.                                                                   JUBILATE, JUBILATE, JUBILATE, AMEN.

SONG:  “Here We Have Gathered”

Gathering in the sunflowers!

Here we have gathered, gathered side by side.

Circle of Kinship, come and step inside.

May all who seek here find a kindly word.

May all who speak here feel they have been heard.

Sing now together, this our hearts’ own song.


Here we have gathered, called to celebrate,

days of our lifetime, matters small and great.

We who now gather, women, children, men,

infants and sages, as we give we gain.

Sing now in friendship, this our hearts’ own song.


Life has its battles, sorrows and regrets.

But in the shadows, let us not forget…

We who now gather know each others’ pain.

Kindness can heal us, as we give we gain.

Sing now together, this our hearts’ own song.

QUOTES

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”            Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Courage.  Kindness.  Friendship.  Character.  These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”          R. J. Palacio

“All I am saying is, kindness don’t have no boundaries.”        Kathryn Stockett in THE HELP

“Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile.  Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family.”        Mother Teresa

“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that—warm things, kind things, sweet things—help and comfort and laughter—and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.”             Francis Hodgson Burnett

SONG: “Kind Friends all gather round aka Give yourself to love”

Kind friends all gather round, there’s something I would say.

What brings us together here has blessed us all today.

Love has made a circle that holds us all inside,

Where strangers are like family, and loneliness can’t hide.


So give yourself to love, if love is what you’re after.

Open up your hearts to….tears and laughter.

Yes and give yourself to love, give yourself to love.


We’ve walked these mountains in the rain.

We’ve learned to love the wind.

We’ve been up before the sunrise,

To watch the day begin.

I always knew I’d find you, but I never did know how.

But like sunshine, on a cloudy day, you stand before me now.


So give yourself to love, if love is what you’re after.

Open up your hearts to….tears and laughter.

Yes, and give yourself to love, give yourself to love.


Love is born in fire, it’s planted like a seed.

Love can’t give you everything, but it gives you what you need.

Love comes when you’re ready, love comes when you’re afraid.

It will be your greatest teacher, the best friend you have had.


So give yourself to love, if love is what you’re after.

Open up your hearts to….tears and laughter.

Yes and give yourself to love, give yourself to love.


STORY:  from WINNIE THE POOH, by A.A. Milne

The times require us all to think about ourselves and about others in order to meet the challenges of COVID-19.  A.A. Milne’s wisdom, written in his Winnie the Pooh stories and poems, offers us important insights about kindness in these times.

The Hundred Acre Wood described by Milne is a beautiful lush forest, similar to the woods surrounding our cabins.  Let your imagination take you there!  I imagine that, down the upper pond path, just before the Sangamon lane, on Steve’s trail to the right, midst the spring lady slippers, is Eeyore’s house.  As was his character, he awoke on his birthday, a pleasant April morning, to a sense of sadness.  Would any of the friends with whom he shared the Hundred Acre Wood remember him on this day, purportedly his special day?

 

In another section of the Wood, Pooh Bear was waking and feeling as if a pre-breakfast walk might be in order.  As luck would have it, his path took him past Eeyore’s house and it wasn’t difficult to see that Eeyore was in a particularly sad mood.  It was Pooh’s character to find out the problem and Eeyore took no time at all to say that it was (though nobody, of course, would remember), his birthday.  After wishing his grey, long-eared friend “happy returns of the day”, Pooh ambled off with a new mission for the day: making sure Eeyore enjoyed some celebratory moments!

When Pooh reached his house, he surveyed his belongings with the goal being to find something he could pass on to his friend, Eeyore.  In short order (and with no little difficulty), he decided to offer a small jar of honey, a particularly sweet jar of honey, to his friend.  Off he went to deliver it to Eeyore.

Pooh chose a different path back, Milne tells us, one that would pass by the home of his dear friend Piglet (also a close friend of Eeyore’s).  Within a matter of a few minutes, Pooh shared with Piglet that it was Eeyore’s birthday and that the two of them had the obligation to bring some sort of celebration to their long-eared friend.  Piglet, with the same care Pooh exhibited, chose a balloon left over from his own birthday party and given to him by Christopher Robin.  The two friends left Piglet’s house with a brightly-colored balloon drifting in the breezes and…oh my….with an empty honey pot.  Yes…between his house and Piglet’s, Pooh had felt the need for a “little something” come on strongly!  And yes…he ate the honey, down to the last lick.

Did he feel a bit regretful?  Oh, yes…Pooh can find regret easily when it comes to honey eating.  By the time he had reached Piglet’s home, he had worked out in his own mind, that an empty honey pot would be a perfect gift for Eeyore.  After all, he thought, he never heard that donkey’s really love honey.

As luck would have it, as Pooh and Piglet approached Eeyore’s path, a nasty root seemed to appear out of nowhere, and with a tremendous BANG, Piglet fell on top of his, or shall we say Eeyore’s, balloon and it popped.  The remains were a limp rag of a previously lightly drifting balloon.  Eeyore’s present.

There are other subtexts and arms of this story that Milne delights in sharing.  For us, today, it is important to know the end of the story.  Having arrived at Eeyore’s with an empty honey pot and a limp balloon, the two guests did salute Eeyore and offered him enthusiastic “happy returns of Eeyore’s birthday”!  And Eeyore? The acts of kindness offered to him by his friends made all the difference from that moment to the end of the day.  And of course, the other animals of the Wood, gathered by Christopher Robin, made their way for just the right sort of Forest birthday.

I love this story and the lessons it offers when days break seemingly without easy joy.  As the song goes, “Kindness can heal us.  As we give we gain.”  In these unusual, hopefully unique days, may each of use our imaginations to invent or participate in acts of kindness as Eeyore’s friends in the Wood were able to do.

There’s just a short after-word to this story.  Did you know that in 1963, in Austin, Texas, people belonging to an organization called Friends of the Forest put their heads together around Eeyore’s birthday story and created what is now an annual one-day festival focused on kindness, community, and service.  The free festival takes place most years on the last Saturday in April.  People gather to celebrate the day, whatever day that is, in a manner that would please that donkey so well defined in the Pooh stories. While the festival itself if free, various vendors raise money there to contribute to a number of service organizations in and around Austin.  The people in attendance are great believers in the fact that “Kindness can heal us”.

With the imagination that is successfully nurtured at Camp Betsey Cox, I am confident that the difficult days ahead will be just that much easier for ourselves and for those to whom each of us reaches out.  In the grocery store yesterday, I noticed the tired-looking faces of over-worked cashiers who have dealt with the unusual challenges of anxious shoppers.  I went to the florist’s section of the store and selected the most beautiful plant in the collection and, when it was my turn to cash out my purchases, I paid for the flower and gave it to the cashier, telling her that I appreciated how extra difficult her days must be with work, family and the circumstances asking so much of her.   I told her that I appreciated her.   Her face lit up, she felt better, I felt better,  and once again, I reminded myself about the power of kindness.  What can you do?  What will others do for you?  I will be eager to hear your stories!

 

SONG: “Peace I ask of thee oh Mountains

Peace I ask of thee oh mountains,

Peace, peace, peace.

When I learn to live serenely,

cares will cease.

From the hills I gather courage,

visions of the days to be.

Strength to lead and faith to follow,

all are given unto me.

Peace I ask of thee oh mountains.

Peace, peace, peace.

 

FINAL WORDS

LOCKDOWN   Anonymously posted on Facebook

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes, there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so

many years of noise

you can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

the sky is no longer thick with fumes,

but blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

people are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family

around them.

They say that a hotel in

the west of Ireland

Is offering free meals and

delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighborhood

so that the elders may have

someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues,

Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the

sick, the weary.

All over the world people are

slowing down and reflecting.

All over the world people are

looking at the neighbors in a

new way.

All over the world people are

waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember

that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul.

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

listen, behind the factory noises of your panic.

The birds are singing again.

The sky is clearing.

Spring is coming.

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

and though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

SIT SILENTLY AND LET LOVE AND PEACE TAKE YOU OVER

Jubilate, Jubilate, Jubilate. Amen

Jubilate, Jubilate, Jubilate. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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