Vespers for these times… July 26, 2020

Sing:

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 Thoughts: This has been a hot, beautiful July at camp.  A special feature of the summer, different from others here, has been the interesting array of clouds that appear at all times of the day.  This week they have been particularly striking!  Thankfully, one set of them eventually pulled itself together to deliver a lovely long-bell thunder storm.  The earth drank up every drop.   Within an hour of the storm’s ending, a walk through the camp garden revealed not a single puddle or raindrop, AND….many grateful plants!  Here is a gallery of camp clouds, all taken this past week!  Do you recognize the locations!  Take yourself back in your mind’s eye and remember the times you stood and admired these very same views!

 

Sing: “House at Pooh Corner”, a camp song.     

Christopher Robin and I walked along

Under branches lit up by the moon.

Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore

As our days passed away all too soon.

But I’ve wandered much farther today than I should

And I can’t seem to find my way back to the wood.


Chorus:

So help me if you can,

I’ve got to get back to the house at Pooh Corner by one.

You’d be surprised there’s so much to be done.

Count all the bees in the hive, chase all the clouds from the sky.

Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh.


Winnie the Pooh doesn’t know what to do.

He’s got a honey jar stuck on his nose.

He came to me asking help and advice,

But from there no one knows where he goes.

So I sent him to ask of the owl, if he’s there.

How to loosen the jar from the nose of a bear.


Chorus


A Few Cloud Quotes:

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”               —Rabindranath Tagore

“There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, ‘Consume me.’

–Virginia Woolf

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”         –John Lubbock

“How sweet the morning air is!  See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo.”             –Arthur Conan Doyle

“Brushing the clouds away from my eyes, I see clarity in the raindrop and beauty in the first ray of morning sun….Life is strange and wondrous.”          –-Virginia Alison

“’Aren’t the clouds beautiful?  They look like big balls of cotton….I could just lie here all day, and watch them drift by….If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud formations…

What do you think you see, Linus?’

‘Well..those clouds up there look like the map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean….That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor…

‘Uh huh…..That’s very good….What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?’

‘Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I changed my mind.’”

–Charles M. Schulz

Sing: “Knowing You is Oh, So Lovely”, a camp song

Knowing you is oh so lovely.

Knowing you is oh so fine.

Even on a cloudy grey morning

We can make the sunlight shine.


Loving you is oh so simple.

Loving you is oh so fine.

Even on a cloudy grey morning,

We can make the sunlight shine.


All the heavens know I love you.

Just because I told them so.

All the flowers in the meadow.

All the stars and all the stones.


All the horses in the valley.

All the waves upon the sea.

All the mountains standing silent.

Far above the golden trees.


So I’ll sing my feelings to you.

Set them down in simple rhyme.

All I am remains here with you.

All of me for all of time.


Knowing you is oh so lovely.

Knowing you is oh so fine.

Even on a cloudy grey morning,

We can make the sunlight shine.


Loving you’s been oh so simple.

Loving you’s been oh so fine.

Even on a cloudy grey morning,

We can make the sunlight shine.

A Story: “Wind Child”,  by Shirley Rousseau Murphy 

Note: Clouds ride on the wind.  This summer, we have felt that truth.  With the clouds come the wind and usually, that brings a change in the weather, a change in the feeling of the day, a change in some form.  This beautiful story is about the wind.  In it the wind brings the wildness of the windiest of days, the wind is portrayed as a person with the power to change lives.  It is also a story about weaving!  A favorite activity in every summer, the story takes us all to the Ellen Mountain weaver, where you, too, can create magic.  Here is the story:

Once long ago, a stormy wind from the east came into this land, blowing typhoons around him.  He was searching for a wife.  He found a girl who was not afraid of his wildness.  They were wed.  

He built her a house of blowing branches and wind-torn cloud.  They were happy there.  She bore him a daughter, but then she died.  The east wind put the baby in the care of an old village woman, and fled back into the sky to be alone with his grief.

He had named the baby Resshie,for the sound his flight makes sweeping through the trees.  The little girl grew up wild and dreaming.  The old woman never told her who her father was.  Resshie wandered the meadows restlessly, watching the winds with a longing she could not understand.

She wanted to know the winds’ secrets and what they shouted when they sped across the sky.  She yearned to fly as the winds flew, to feel the grasses brush her toes, to leap high above wind-tossed waters.  

She tried to send ripples across the water as the wind did, but she was not as skillful.  She tried to weave patterns in the rushes like the winds made, but hers were not so beautiful.

Resshie grew into a handsome young woman with pale hair and eyes as changeable as the sky.  ‘Now you are grown,’ said the old woman who raised her.  ‘Now you must make your own way.’  And she sent Resshie into the world.

So Resshie took a cottage alone and began to weave rough cloth to earn her bread.  But sitting at the loom, she would look up at the blowing winds and wish to eave beauty like theirs.

And I will, thought Resshie.  She worked long and hard, until her gauzy cloth seemed made of wind and storm.  Soon folk came to buy her weaves, and the village girls wanted Resshie to make their wedding veils.  But when Resshie saw how happy the young brides were, she wondered if she wanted a husband too, to share her future.

NOTE:  The story continues.  Resshie began to consider various future husbands, but in every case, she found each candidate flawed in some way.  And then….

Alone…Resshie worked long hours at her weaves.  They grew so beautiful that folk from far countries came to see, and to buy.  And all the passing winds swirled around her cottage to look.  Resshie called to the winds, longing to go with each across the endless sky.  But they did not take her hands or speak to her.

One morning, when Resshie was hanging a length of silk on the bushes, a swift wind circled her cottage.  It fingered the sil, and made it ripple.  It rattled the treetops and pulled at the thatch on her roof.  It disappeared only after Resshie had sold the cloth.

The next morning, a rap came on Resshie’s door.

A young prince stood there, dressed in silver as glittering as the morning sky.  Strange how still the sky was, no wind stirred in it.

‘I would like to see the fabrics you weave,’ said the prince.  ‘They are spoken of across the land.’

‘And what is said of my work?’ Resshie asked.

‘It is said to show the heart of the winds.  Will you tell me how this can be?’

‘Perhaps I understand the winds,’ said Resshie.

‘No mortal can understand the winds,’ he said, flicking his cape impatiently.

‘I can,’ said Resshie.

‘Can you prove it?’ he challenged.

‘I can prove it,’ Resshie told him.  ‘But if I do, you must promise me one wish.’

‘How do you know I can grant a wish?’

‘Will you promise?’ said Resshie stubbornly.

The prince saw a bright wildness about her that he had never seen in a mortal. 

‘I will grant your wish if I can,’ said he.  ‘What is it , pretty Resshie?’

‘I would be your wife’, said she, ‘and travel wherever you travel.  In return, I will weave a tapestry that shows your true likeness.’  For Resshie had guessed that he was not a mortal man.

‘And if you fail,’ said the prince, ‘what forfeit will you pay?’

‘I will serve you as handmaiden for all of your days,’ said Resshie, ‘always at your bidding.’

The prince howled with laughter.  Whichever way the wager went, Resshie would win.

At last he nodded and struck the bargain.  The prince gave her twenty days.

First Resshie dyed her threads crimson and saffron and amethyst, turquoise and cerulean.  Then she gathered spiders’ webs and wound them on long spindles.  She gathered poppies, wild irises, golden hairs from wild horses, and amber rushes from the river.  The gathering took five days.  When Resshie was finished, she began to weave.

Resshie hardly slept, hardly left the loom.  Her tapestry reflected wild skies and the wind-ripples in wheat and the shadows of blowing clouds.  Soon the bright cloth spilled over the loom and lay in folds across her cottage.

On the twentieth day, the weave was finished.  Resshie lay down on the rug before the hearth and went to sleep.  The prince came just at dusk.

As he approached the door, the thatch on the roof fluttered.  He touched the windows, and they trembled.  He looked inside and saw Resshie sound asleep.  He lifted his hand, and Resshie’s bright weaving came to life.  It twisted out the door and blew around the prince, then sailed high above the cottage.

Resshie woke and came to see.

The prince took her hand, and together they stood looking.  As her tapestry shimmered across the sky, the prince said, ‘You have, indeed, captured my spirit.’  And he looked deep into Resshie’s eyes.

He said, ‘You are not a mortal woman.’  Then the prince did a strange thing.  HE began to weave—but not with thread or straw.  He wove with the air itself.

He wove a breeze like silver gossamer around Resshie.  As she stood in his windy bower of silver air, the wind-prince put his arms around her.

And so he took her home.

Now from the sky. Resshie and her true love weave the reeds along the world’ rivers, and tangle the manes of running horses.  They scatter the smoke from a million fires and the petals from roses.  They carry birds on silver paths and shake the limbs of trees that thrust up from our world into theirs.  Now at last, Resshie is happy.

Sing:  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” By E Y Harburg and Harold Arlen

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high.

There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue.

And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.


Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops

Away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me.


Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly.

Birds fly over the rainbow, why then, oh, why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow 

Why oh why can’t I?


A few words: Joni Mitchell wrote a beautiful song called “Both Sides Now”.  You can hear the song on YouTube.  The first two verses are fitting for these vespers.  Here they are:

“Bows and flows of angel hair, and ice ceam castles in the air.

And feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.

But now they only block the sun.  They rain and snow on everyone.

So many things I could have done, but clouds got in my way.


I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

From up and down, and still somehow..

It’s clouds’ illusions I recall.

I really don’t know clouds at all.”

The clouds this summer are of so many sorts.  When they float in a blue sky, just puffy piles of marshmallow white, happiness abounds, delivered by the accompanying breezes.  We’ve had lots of days just like this.


There have also been a good number of just plain cloudy days, the kind of days when you pull out of your bunk at rising bell and wonder whether you’ll have to change your plan for the day because of rain.  Those days can go either way.  They teach us one of the major lessons that camp offers! At camp everyone learns to be flexible.  And we learn to respond to the natural world rather than to dominate it!  Like Resshie, we work with the wind and the weather!

And of course, there are the dark-bottomed thunder clouds that, if we are lucky, bring nurturing rain.  

A few things seem true about all clouds.  They change, they blow past.  They tickle our imaginations if one stops to take a close look at their shapes.  

These days, the clouds that seem to hide the sky are interesting to consider.  These days our world seems covered in the dark clouds of problems that can feel overwhelming.  These dark ones seem so thick, so challenging, so depressing.   And yet…beneath the clouds is the clarity of the blue sky waiting to be celebrated, waiting to be filled with delightful fluffy clouds.  Remember!  Clouds lift.  And in the case of the dark clouds we feel so surrounded by today, with the effort we can all put into solutions, the clouds WILL lift.  They always do.  

Here is an excerpt from Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Leaf and the Cloud”:

When loneliness comes stalking, go into 

the fields, consider

the orderliness of the world.  Notice

something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-

cricket

whose pale green body is no longer than

your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the 

summer rain,

shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will wither or

not.

Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be

green also, 

like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty

of this world

and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and

walk away.

Be good-natured and untidy in your

exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.

And beholden to what is tactile, and

thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.

Sing:  “I Love the Mountains,” a camp song.

I love the flowers, I love the daffodils.

I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills.

I love the firelight, when all the light is low.

Chorus:

Boom dee ah dah, boom dee ah dah,

Boom dee ah dah, boom dee ah dah


Living together under skies above. 

I love the pathways that my feet have trod.

I want to live and love for all these things, 

These wonderful things, oh

Chorus

Final Words: 

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.  May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”        —Edward Abbey

Silence

Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, amen.Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, amen.

 

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