This morning before the day began, I walked with my dog Chipper up to Inspiration Point.
Actually, I walked, while Chipper ran, jumped, and soared through the woods, chasing scents, and barking squirrels up trees. Chipper leaps into every morning with contagious joy. He’s just happy to be alive.
When I reached Inspiration Point, I received a gift that is more elusive than I would like to admit: I received the gift of gratitude. As I stood there, watching the sunlight hitting the tops of the mountains, I felt grateful. For a few minutes I understood, again, how my whole life is a gift, and how it’s all tied up with sacrifices and offerings of other people, and how none of it makes sense if God is not holding this whole world together in love.
I do not always feel gratitude, but I believe it is at the core of what it means to be a fully alive human being. And I do want to be fully alive.
At Rockmont we pause at every meal to sing a blessing song, and then to pray, giving thanks to God, who has given us everything good, and plenty of it.
Camp is a great place to learn that life is a gift. It is a beautiful place to become aware that we depend on God for every breath, and that God is good and generous and gracious to all.
It is not always easy to be grateful, even at camp. In fact, it’s easier to avoid being grateful. It is easier to pretend that we can make it through life on our own, without help from others or God. But a life without gratitude, would be a life without friendship, forgiveness, generosity, and hope. I hope we are leading young men toward gratitude.
Dag Hammarskjold was a strong and steady Secretary-General of the United Nations who confronted dictators, and faced fierce conflict, and finally died in a plane crash on a peace mission in the Congo in 1961. After his death, we discovered he was also a committed, thoughtful Christian. By his bedside, he left a journal of beautiful reflections on his own spiritual journey. He called them “Trail Marks.” One trail mark was a prayer, written on New Year’s Eve, at the turn of a decade. He wrote,
“For all that has been, ‘Thanks.’
For all that shall be, ‘Yes.’”
It is a simple, but profound prayer: Thanks and Yes. He looked back on his life and recognized the whole thing as a gift. He was grateful, and that gratitude allowed him to look into an unknown future, and say, “Yes.”
At Inspiration Point, I paused to look through the cross sculpture at the sunrise, and I gave thanks for another morning, for meaningful work, for good colleagues, and for all the young men we get to see coming alive in this beautiful place.