A few weeks ago I read this prayer by John Baillie. He was a professor of divinity at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and this prayer is found in A Diary of Private Prayer (1949).
Creator Spirit, who broodest everlastingly
over the lands and waters of earth,
enduing them with forms and colours
which no human skill can copy,
give me to-day, I beseech Thee,
the mind and heart to rejoice in Thy creation.
Forbid that I should walk
through Thy beautiful world with unseeing eyes;
Forbid that the lure of the market-place
should ever entirely steal my heart
away from the love of the open acres and the green trees;
Forbid that under the low roof of workshop or office or study
I should ever forget Thy great overarching sky:
Forbid that when all Thy creatures are greeting the morning
with songs and shouts of joy, I alone should wear a dull and sullen face
Let the energy and vigour which in Thy wisdom
Thou hast infused into every living thing
stir to-day within my being…
It at first seemed a most fitting prayer for camping and I read it several times at Schaeffer Creek over the July 4th weekend and on every camping trip since. It really is a perfect prayer to pray on the banks of a slowly rolling river or gazing out upon the snow-capped sunny mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
But then I came home. I came home and realized that I need it here more than the mountains. I need it here where I am inundated with the noise of the city and the noise of social media. I need it here where my mind boggles with the notion that a sociopathic, racist, misogynist demagogue actually might become the next President of the United States. I need it here where I more keenly feel the despair of the world and the ugliness in others. The ugliness in myself.
Not to go all “Call of the Wild” on you but I have been feeling this Summer the pull of the woods and the rivers and the mountains more than ever before in my life. Usually by day 3 or 4 of camping, I am ready to point our car back toward Seattle. Enough of pit toilets and sleeping on the ground! But this year, despite being seriously overdue for a shower and running low on rations, I haven’t been ready. I haven’t wanted to come home.
I honestly don’t know what to make of it; this longing for more quietude, less noise; more breathing, less confinement. Maybe I walked through the winter with unseeing eyes and now find the woods and the outdoors filling the parched and empty spaces in me? Maybe I’ve grown sick of social media or sick of myself? Or maybe I’ve just been hitting Wendell Berry a little too hard and I’m idealizing the life of a farmer! Whatever it is, it’s not bad. And 4 out of the last 5 weekends have been spent outdoors so I’m definitely getting my fill!