Sunday, April 10, 2011


I went turkey hunting over the weekend. It didn't go very well. It had been raining all night and things were pretty muddy. I eventually found a few tracks, but never any turkeys. And then it started to snow. I eventually gave up.

While I was out, however, I had a chance to be on the mountain, all alone in the cool of early morning, and just sit and listen. It's been a while since I've had an opportunity like that. I do get out into the woods for work quite regularly, but I don't often get to just sit and enjoy where I am. I got to do that this weekend, and found I've really missed it.

While I was there I had a poem come to mind. Now, I'm not a big fan of poetry, but I did just start reading a collection of poems by Robert Service (the author of The Cremation of Sam McGee). One of the poems was titled The Three Voices:

The waves have a story to tell me,
    As I lie on the lonely beach;
Chanting aloft in the pine-tops,
    The wind has a lesson to teach;
But the stars sing an anthem of glory
    I cannot put into speach.

The waves tell of ocean spaces,
    Of hearts that are wild and brave,
Of populous city places,
    Of desolate shores they lave,
Of men who sally in quest of gold
    To sink in an ocean grave.

The wind is a mighty roamer;
    He bids me keep me free,
Clean from the taint of the gold-lust,
    Hardy and pure as he;
Cling with my love to nature,
    As a child to the mother-knee.

But the stars throng out in their glory,
    And they sing of the God in man;
They sing of the Mighty Master,
    Of the loom his fingers span,
Where a star or a soul is a part of the whole,
    And weft in the wondrous plan.

Here by the camp-fire's flicker,
    Deep in my blanket curled,
I long for the peace of the pine-gloom,
    When the scroll of the Lord is unfurled,
And the wind and the wave are silent,
    And world is singing to world.

So what does any of this have to do with Scouting? Maybe nothing. But I've heard it said that the outdoor programs achieve more of the aims of Scouting than any other single method. Perhaps it's because of those "voices" Robert Service speaks of. When we get young men into the woods, around a campfire, or gazing at the stars something happens. They hear those voices. They hear the stars "sing of the Mighty Master." They draw closer to God.

Thinking about it in this way, I've realized it is no coincidence that the young men I have the hardest time reaching on a spiritual level are the ones who never come with us on our trips and outings. I'm not sure what to do to get them to come. But I really hope I can. Perhaps the wind and the stars can teach them the things they don't want to hear from me.

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