Steve and I are away for a few days on a silent retreat at Green Bough House of Prayer near Adrian, Georgia. It was recommended to me many years ago by a good friend and clergywoman. But we came to Green Bough for the first time only two years ago, immediately prior to beginning to serve alongside the people of Trinity.
As I said it is a place for silent retreat. What does that mean? That means we do not speak to anyone (or each other) basically at all - for the time we are here, three nights and four days. The only times designated for speaking are during an hour each day of individual spiritual direction with a United Methodist laywoman and during worship twice daily for prayers and singing. We also unplug from all technology, but I wanted to get this to you all today.
Yesterday evening, on the Fourth of July as we worshiped together we sang "America, the Beautiful." In the middle of rural South Georgia far away from any parades or grand firework displays, it was a rather different way to celebrate Independence Day. And as we sang, a gathered community of less than a dozen, I was reminded of what a beautiful, powerful and challenging prayer we were lifting up for our country.
As we continue to celebrate this week, I offer this to you and invite you to join in praying with me.
O Beautiful, for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain; For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plains! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their countries loved and mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine till all success be nobleness and every gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears. America! America! God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law.