The Earth Week Vespers

Vespers for these times...


Hark, the Vesper bell is pealing,

O’er the meadow soft and green

Nearer then and nearer stealing,

Soft it breaks upon my ear.

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


Opening words:

Wednesday, April 22.  The 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  Camp Betsey Cox community members, of course, remember the Earth and our responsibilities to our planet on a daily basis.  On Earth Day, however, it is exciting and important to know that people around the world and across generations are thinking together about how to best care for our only home.  This year, it was heartening to see many people naming the full week Earth Week.  And in this hopefully unique year, many people took time to take virtual tours that reminded themselves of the glories of our collective home.  Others took stock of new information about the health of our planet, and hopefully everyone thought about how they contribute to the health of the world and how they could do even more.  Images of jelly fish swimming in the Venice canals or of the Himalayan mountains being visible from quiet streets in Delhi, or knowing that your deepest breath was freer of pollution—all this is the good news.  And now…what’s the as-yet-to-be named good news—what can we bring forward into the next 50 years (and beyond!) from the lessons and observations we make this Earth Week?

Song: “For the Beauty of the Earth” slightly modified!

For the beauty of the earth,

For the glory of the skies.

For the love which from our birth

Over and around us lies.

Mother Earth, to thee we sing,

This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour

Of the day and of the night.

Hill and vale and tree and flower,

Sun and moon and stars of light.

Mother Earth to thee we sing,

This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,

Brother, sister, parent, child

Friends on earth and friends afar,

For all gentle thoughts and mild.

Mother Earth to thee we sing,

This our hymn of grateful praise.

Special Places at Camp:

It’s always a good place to start—places on our planet that we all know and love.  Here are four camp people with memories of their favorite places at camp.  They will take us back to this place we love!  And of course, there will be a good dose of Mary Oliver woven in!


Sing: “I love to go a wandering”

I love to go a wandering, along the mountain path.

And as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back.

Valderi, Valdera, Valderi, Valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

Valderi, Valdera, my knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream, that dances in the sun.

So joyously it calls to me, “come join my happy song”.

Valderi, Valdera, Valderi, Valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

Valderi, Valdera, “come join my happy song”.

I wave my hat to all I meet and they wave back to me.

And blackbirds call so loud and sweet, from every greenwood tree.

Valderi, Valdera, Valderi, Valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

Valderi, Valdera, from every greenwood tree.

O may I go a-wandering, until the day I die.

And may I always laugh and sing, beneath a clear, blue sky.

Valderi, Valdera, Valderi, Valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

Valderi, Valdera, beneath a clear, blue sky.

An Exercise:

If we were “all together again” at camp, if it were 5:15 on a Sunday afternoon, if the most important thing we could do for the next hour together were to think about how we as individuals, a camp community, a person living in a town, a state, a country, on the planet—how we could do more for our glorious home planet, we would think, sing and reflect on the Earth.  We might gather up in cabin groups for a bit of an eco-challenge.  We might be handed a list of interesting questions that our cabin would answer.  We might get them all right and feel so very good!  We might get a few wrong and feel very good about learning something new and important!

Today, of course, we are in our own homes.  But in celebration of Earth Day/Earth Week, we could gather up in our family group or in a Zoom group or with the people in the apartment downstairs who could come out on the stairway to think together!  Let’s do it!

These questions were from National Geographic and from  Let’s see how you do! Answers will be provided at the end of this Vespers!

  1. What uses the most energy in US homes each year?
  • A. Lighting
  • B. Heating and air conditioning
  • C. Refrigeration
  • D. Heating water

2. Which of these species are threatened by global warming?

  • A. Koala
  • B. Clownfish
  • C. Arctic fox
  • D. All

3. How many degrees has the Earth warmed up in the past 100 years?

  • A. 20 degrees
  • B. 30 degrees
  • C. 1 degree
  • D. 12 degrees

4. What is most frequently found in beach cleanups?

  • A. Glass
  • B. Shoes
  • C. Pieces of plastic
  • D. Aluminum cans

5. Paper can be made from which of these materials?

  • A. Panda poop
  • B. Hemp
  • C. Wood
  • D. All of the above

6. True or False:

The average American generates more than four pounds of trash per day.

7. On average, about how much water do most Americans use at home each day?

  • A. 15 gallons
  • B. 25 gallons
  • C. 50 gallons
  • D. 5 gallons

8. How long does it take a plastic 6-pack holder to disintegrate?

  • A. 450 years
  • B. It never will
  • C. 100 years
  • D. 5 years

9. Which of the following accounts for the greatest waste in the US?

  • A. Paper
  • B. Plastics
  • C. Glass
  • D. Food waste

10. There is a list of the countries that emit the most carbon dioxide.  Which place does the US occupy?

  • A. 25th
  • B. 1st
  • C. 137th
  • D. 2nd

How do you think you and your group did?  How do you think you and your cabin group might have done?  You can check yourselves out at the end of Vespers! 


Listen and Sing:  “The Vermont State Song”

These words are a celebration of Vermont’s identity!  We sing it on Old Vermont Day.  Remember?  If you haven’t been at camp for session 3 you may not know the song…yet!  But you will learn it, starting with listening here and then learning it when “we are all together again” in each session.  Promise!


Answers to the cabin/family/zoom quiz:

Here are the answers to the cabin/family/zoom quiz above!  Eager to learn more? 

Research the answers next week and keep Earth Week energy going!

  1. D
  2. C
  3. C
  4. D
  5. True
  6. C
  7. A
  8. A
  9. D

What Next?

So now…Vespers are almost over—time for cabin cookouts or dinner (in this case!).  Here’s a good conversation starter for you as you think about what you can do going forward into your very own and our very own future!  Here’s a starter or two:

  •             Make sure to turn out lights when you are no one is in a room
  •             Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth or soaping up in the shower
  •             Find reusable sandwich bags, lunch bags, etc., etc.  Bring them to camp for hike day and trips!
  •             Say “no thank you” when, once restaurants are open again, you are offered plastic straws.
  •             Enjoy your old clothes for longer, hand them down and hope someone hands some down to you!
  •             You’ll think of many more!  Do them!!


Final Words:

Wendell Berry is a Scottish poet who wrote a beautiful poem about the healing power of nature.  Imagine yourself back at camp and think about the places you would choose that would bring you the kind of peace Wendell Berry finds in his neighborhood especially in difficult times we all will have in the course of a lifetime:

The Peace of Wild Things-Wendell Barry

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light.  For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Moment of Silence

Sing: Jubilate, Jubilate, Jubilate, Amen.  Jubilate, Jubilate, Jubilate, Amen.




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