Gayle E. Rhoads' Favorite Poetry

"Ordeal by M. and St. L." was a poem written by Gayle's father, James H. Rhoads, about the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad. It was inspired by a westward journey from Watertown to Aberdeen SD in the late 1930s (the RR line had been added in '06). I suppose the railroad stations of yesteryear were not so different from today's bus stations. Gayle typed the poem from memory in February 1997. He indicated several missing lines. Gayle's brother Don sent me the published poem and I amended Gayle's recollection with the lines in brackets.

Ordeal By M. and St. L.
by James H. Rhoads
as recalled by his son, Gayle E. Rhoads.

There are many modes of travel in this scientific age,
You may take a trip by airplane if you earn a handsome wage.
[If time is not a factor, and you choose to go awheel
You may ride a speedy diesel in a coach of stainless steel.]
If your revenue is smaller, and you have to live on less,
You can make a pleasant journey by The Mail or Fast Express.
[Now, if you're independent and your budget's up to par
There's no better means of travel than a swanky streamlined car.]
But there is another method, list' ye moderns, while I tell,
Of some ninety miles I covered on the quaint old M St. L.
I had risen rather early, my appointment couldn't wait.
I called the station agent. He said the train was late.
Then with stolid resignation, a light breakfast I did eat,
And I loitered as I sauntered down the walk with heavy feet.
['Twas with more or less reluctance that I climbed abord the hack]
It was just an old red way-car standing mutely by the track,
But I knew that once she started, she would creak and groan and roll.
Then I cast my gaze about me. There was not another soul
Had the courage or the folly to start out on such a trip
Save the bug-faced old conductor, with his squatty little grip.
First he pulled his red bandana, and he gave his nose a swipe,
Then he dumped some fresh Bull Durham in his putrid corn-cob pipe,
And as the smoke arising made a halo 'round his head,
I wished I hadn't started, but had stayed at home instead.
When he hopped off the rear platform, gave the highball to the cab,
They must have pulled the throttle 'cause the brakes began to grab.
The wreck began to shudder, up and down and to and fro,
As if she couldn't quite decide which way she ought to go.
Then suddenly she made a lunge, as if to take the air,
I almost didn't find myself still sitting in my chair.
If a table hadn't stopped me, I'd have landed on the floor.
If she'd jerked a second time, I'd have been out the back door.
[It's a mighty queer sensation when your chair begins to dance,
And you know if it continues you'll be busting out your pants.
So to minimize vibration and to check the wear and tear,
I locked my legs securely 'round a steel pole anchored there.
But soon I had to loose my hold--it wasn't any joke--
You see I had to close the stove--it, too, began to smoke.
The noxious gasses I inhaled; for oxygen I gasped.
With eyes aflame and throat athirst, my handkerchief I grasped.
No water there to quench my thirst, no soap to loose the dirt!
No towel to wipe my hands, except a piece of Aunt Dade's skirt!]
A feather duster lies quite near, motheaten, gray, and patched,
I'm told the birds who bore those plumes, were in the 6[0]'s hatched.
[And can it be these wheels that squeak beneath this old caboose
Were rolling o'er these praries wild before the slaves were loose?]
These many holes weren't made by nails, they're bullet holes instead,
Inflicted by some redskins gun, in vengeance for his dead.
[What stories might this old bench tell upon which now I sit--
Of hoary travelers long ago who coughed and chewed and spit!]
The dirt upon the walls is thick, still thicker on the floor,
They say the boy who cleaned it last, died in the Civil War.
[And in the air hangs aged smoke exhaled from Granddad's lungs;]
And on the floor lie horse shoe quids, expelled by ancient tongues
Old wads of gum, well decomposed, beneath these benches stuck,
Remembrances of yesterdays when gold was brave man's luck.
Here microbes live in luxury, and germs play fast and loose,
And eat their fill each livelong day, of stale tobacco juice.
[Here dwell small creatures tame and wild, a rendezvous for mice;
A habitat for roaches sleek, for bugs and slugs and lice!
O, what is wrong with all my thoughts? My mind begins to reel!
A sickening sensation in my abdomen I feel!]
My breakfast! It is coming up! Or can I keep it down?
Oh when will this old loathsome crate blow whistle for my town?
[My nausea is growing worse! When will this old hearse stop?
Why don't the owners give this junk to some old curio shop?
Ah, joy unbounded! Can it be?] my station is in view!
A breath of air! I'm rallying, my journey's nearly through.
[You talk about your prisons and the concentration camps,]
And all the other methods for detaining thugs and scamps,
But methinks that when the devil, plans to take his gang to hell,
He'll ask to sign a charter for the miserable St. L.

This is the depot that James referred to when he wrote, "Ah, joy unbounded! Can it be? my station is in view!" This Postcard of the Aberdeen M. & St. L Depot is from the Bill Sommer collection, displayed at Lyndon "Cash" Groth's M. & St. L Website,

The poem "He" showed up in a lot of GER's sermons and devotional talks.


Men are of two kinds, and he
Was the kind I'd like to be.
Some preach their virtues, and a few
Express their lives by what they do;
That sort was he. No flowery phrase
Or glibly spoken word of praise
Won friends for him. He wasn't cheap,
Or shallow, but his course ran deep,
And it was pure. You know the kind.
Not many in life you find
Whose deeds outrun their words so far
That more than what they seem, they are.

"Ozymandius" furnished the inspiration for the name of Gayle's last poodle.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said, "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped in these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings
Look on my works, ye mighty, and dispair."
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Gayle wrote out this sonnet in calligraphy on his fortieth birthday.

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 2

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth's proud livery so gazed on now,
Will be a tattered weed of small worth held.
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use,
If thou couldst answer, "This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,"
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

"Western Hills" had a coveted spot next to "High Flight" on the file cabinet next to Gayle's desk.

Western Hills
Elizabeth-Ellen Long

A hill, out west, grows lanky and
No soft grass on it , no flabby
Sun-tanned, wind-wrinkled,
leather-skinned land,
Tough and wiry as an old cow
In lonely silence it rides the range,
Day in and day out, without a
Watching over sagebrush, keeping
Live-oak trees from wandering
From dawn to dark, always
The gaunt ribbed desert's dusty
Rides the sky's blue range, rides
far and wide
With only its shadow at its side.

High Flight
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sunsplit clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of, wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the wind swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, not even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind, I've trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Gayle kept a separate file of notes on the author of this poem:

Born in China/ American father/ English mother Father a clergyman At 9, attended Rugby School 1940, attended Yale/ joined RCAF. Wrote parents during training, "An aeroplane is not to us a weapon of war, but a flash of silver slanting the skies; the hum of a deep-voiced motor; a feeling of dizziness; it is speed and ecstasy." Instructor noted, "Patches of brilliance, tendency to overconfidence." Later, his poetic talent and meditative demeanor were a cause for concern in his squadron. So excited with first flights in Spitfires, he wrote his feelings on the back of an envelope or sack, and set them to his parents. He said, "It started at 30,000 feet, and was finished soon after I landed. I thought it might interest you." First published in Flying, May 1942. Dated a written Sept 3, l941. Editors predicted 'High Flight" would become a classic. President Reagan intoned its lines in his tribute to the crew of the Challenger.

"Thanatopsis" was one of Gayle's very favorites. It echoes the stoic resolution with which he approached his own death.

Thanatopsis - Selections from
William Cullen Bryant

. . .So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All who breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glides away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like a quarry slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

CAP, SQ 31 - Feb 97
CAP, Wing Memorial Service, Ltc Robert Wood

"I'm On a Committee" accurately reflected the feelings Gayle often expressed about committees, which he loathed in the collective but endured in the particular.

I'm On a Committee!

Oh give me some pity, I'm on a committee,
which means that from morning to night,
We attend, and amend, and contend, and defend
without a conclusion in sight.

We confer and concur, we defer and demur,
and reiterate all of our thoughts.
We revise the agenda with frequent addenda,
and consider a load of reports.

We compose and propose, we suppose and oppose,
and the points of procedure are fun!
But though various notions are brought up as motions,
there's terribly little gets done.

We resolve and absolve, but we never dissolve,
since it's out of the question for us.
What a shattering pity to end our committee,
where else could we make such a fuss.

-Author Unknown

A Message of Importance

Some day when you're feeling important,
Some day when you're ego's in bloom,
Some day when you're feeling that you
Are the important one in the room
Take a bucket and fill it with water
Stick your hand in up to your wrist
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining
Will measure how much you'll be missed.
You may splash all you wish as you enter.
Stir the water around galore.
But you'll find when you finally leave it
It's exactly the same as before.
As you follow your daily agenda,
Always do the best that you can--
Be proud of yourself, but remember--
There is no indispensable man.

--Found in a file of materials, no date, no source.
Note the similarity of this poem to one of Gayle's
favorite stories, 'Thumb in the Bathtub,' found on
the "Inspirational Stories" page.

On Talent

Do not speak to me of talent,
For talent is not a commodity
That can be measured,
Or lent, or borrowed against.
It is not yours to do with
As you will.
It is a gift from God,
Not bestowed because you merit it;
But rather a glimmer of a thought
In the mind of God,
Alighting on you
At random.

-Donna Vossler Sleeman, in July 1988, The Artist, p. 37

The Heart - Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, beastial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter,- bitter", he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart".

"Suppose Poe Had a Computer" has overtones of Gayle's ongoing battles with his various Macintosh computers, from his first Mac SE through his last, a green iMac given to him and BJ by his daughter-in-law.

Suppose Poe had a Computer!

Once upon a midnight dreary, fingers cramped and vision bleary,
System manuals piled high and wasted paper on the floor,
Longing for the warmth of bed sheets,
Still I sat there, doing spreadsheets
Having reached the bottom line,
I took a floppy from the drawer.
Typing with a steady hand, I then invoked the SAVE command
And waited for the disk to store,
Only this and nothing more.

Deep into the monitor peering, long I sat there wond'ring, fearing,
Doubting, while the disk kept churning, turning yet to churn some more.
"Save!" I said, "You cursed PC! Save my data from before!"
One thing did the phosphors answer, only this and nothing more,
Just, "> Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

Was this some bizarre illusion? Some maniacal intrusion?
These were choices undesired, ones I'd never faced before.
Carefully, I weighed the choices as the disk made impish noises.
The cursor flashed, insistent, waiting, baiting me to type some more.

Clearly I must press a key, choosing one and nothing more,
From "> Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

With my fingers pale and trembling
Slowly toward the keyboard bending,
Longing for a happy ending, hoping all would be restored,
Praying for some guarantee
Timidly I pressed a key.
But on the screen there still persisted words appearing as before.
Ghastly grim they blinked and taunted, haunted, as my patience wore,
Saying "> Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

I tried to catch the chips off-guard --
I pressed again, but twice as hard.
I pleaded with the cursed machine: I begged and cried and then I swore.
Now in desperation, trying random combinations,
Still there came the incantation, just as senseless as before.
Cursor blinking, angrily winking, blinking nonsense as before.
Reading, "> Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

There I sat, distraught, exhausted by my own machine accosted
Getting up I turned away and paced across the office floor.
And then I saw a dreadful sight: a lightning bolt cut through the night.
A gasp of horror overtook me, shook me to my very core.
The lightning zapped my previous data, lost and gone forevermore.
And no "> Abort, Retry, Ignore?"

To this day I do not know
The place to which lost data go.
What dreaded nether world is wrought where all lost data will be stored?
Beyond the reach of mortal souls? Beyond the ether? In black holes?
But sure as there is C, Pascal, and Lotus, Ashton-Tate and more,
One day you'll be left to wonder, data trying to restore,
"Will I see it nevermore?"


Bittle Lum on a Sturbcone

Once a big molicepan
Saw a bittle lum,
Sitting on a sturbcone
Chewing gubble bum.
Said the big molicepan:
"Won't you simmie gome?"
"Tinny on your nintype!"
Said the bittle lum.

[This spoonerism-filled "vintage" poem was one that Gayle repeated for the delight of children, who enjoyed it despite the fact that most had no idea of what a tintype was (a photographic process invented before the civil war and still in use for cheap portraiture through the 1930s), or of the traditional rivalry between bums and policeman that existed in the depression era.]

Crossing The Bar

Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound or foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out
our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may beat me far,
I hope to see my pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Dark Visitor

I would to God I knew some place
Where I could lock my love away
Secure from death, whose quiet
Looked in upon us yesterday.
But lovers have nowhere to hide:
We cannot creep beneath a leaf
Or find a crack and slip inside
Beyond the fingers of this thief.
No bolted door, no cunning mesh
Of woven steel, no wall of stone
Can shield the petal of the flesh
Or save the living stem of bone.
But only this, - If we possess
A love as strong and sure as death,
What matters one heartbeat the less?
One pitiable pinch of breath?
Death cannot grasp the sun nor
His bony hand about the sea,
Nor take love but to lift it up
From earth into eternity.

- Herbert Merrill

My Cathedral
Henry Longfellow

Like two cathedral towers these stately pines
Uplift their fretted summits tipped with cones;
The arch beneath them is not built with stones,
Not Art but Nature traced these lovely lines,
And carved this graceful arabesque of vines;
No organ but the wind here sighs and moans,
No sepulchre conceals a martyr's bones,
No marble bishop on his tomb reclines.
Enter! The pavement carpeted with leaves,
Gives back a softened echo to thy tread!
Listen! the choir is singing: All the birds
In leafy galleries beneath the eves,
Are singing! Listen, ere the sound be fled,
And learn there may be worship without words.

Still Things

From a page folded and tucked into
GER's 1957 5-ring binder...

To A Waterfowl

Whither, midst falling dew
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, doest thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As darkly seen against the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed oceanside?
There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast-
The desert and illimitable air-
Lone wondering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.
He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.

- William Cullen Bryant
Jan 97 - Ad Council

GER's Favorite Prayers

A Prayer -
Max Ehrmann - Written about 1895

Let me do my work each day;
And if the darkened hours of despair overcome me,
May I not forget the strength that comforted me
In the desolation of other times.
May I still remember the bright hours that found me
Walking over the silent hills of my childhood
Or dreaming on the margin of the quiet river,
When the light glowed within me,
And I promised my early God to have courage
Amid the tempests of the changing years.
Spare me from bitterness
And from the sharp passions of unguarded moments;
May I not forget that poverty and riches are of the spirit.
Though the world know me not,
May my thoughts and actions be such
As shall keep me friendly with myself.
Lift my eyes from the earth,
And let me not forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others,
Lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of the world
But walk calmly in my path.
Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am;
And keep ever burning before my vagrant steps
The kindly light of hope.
And though age and infirmity overtake me,
And I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams,
Teach me still to be thankful for life,
And for time's olden memories that are good and sweet;
And may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.


For all who watch tonight - by land or sea or air---
O Father, may they know that Thou art with them there.
For all who weep tonight, the hearts that cannot rest,
Reveal Thy love, that wondrous love which gave for us Thy best.
For all who wake tonight, love’s tender watch to keep,
Watcher Divine, Thyself draw nigh, Thou who doest never sleep.
For all who fear tonight, O Father, keep, and where
Our love and succor cannot reach, now bless them through our prayer.
And all who pray tonight, Thy wrestling hosts, O Lord,
Make weakness strong, let them prevail according to Thy word.

--Anon. (WWII)

St Francis' Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

The Resting Place

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in a man-made creed;
I trust the ever living One,
That He for me will plead.
I need no other evidence,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died
And that He died for me.


The Cadet Prayer

Lord God of Hosts, life is a stewardship in your sight. Grant the light or Your wisdom to the path of our cadet days. Instill within us an abiding awareness of love to You, our country, and our fellow man.

We seek humility, that knowing self, we may rise above human frailty. We ask for courage, that we may prove faithful to duty. We ask unfailing devotion and personal integrity, that we may preserve honor without compromise.

Make us instruments of Your peace in defense of skies that canopy free nations. So guide us in our thoughts, our words, our deeds,-- that we may fulfill Your will. May these graces abide in us, in those we love, and all who share our country's trust.

This we ask in the name of our Master and Leader, Amen. or (This we ask in the name of our Master and Leader, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.)


God Be In My Head
[by Sarum Primer, 1538]

God be in my head,
And in my understanding;

God be in my eyes,
And in my looking;

God be in my mouth,
And in my speaking;

God be in my heart,
And in my thinking;

God be at my end,
And in my departing.

--Sarum Primer, 1558

Prayer for Senility

God grant me the Senility
to forget the people
I never liked anyway,
the good fortune
to run into the ones I do,
and the eyesight
to tell the difference...

This prayer appears to be a GER original...

"I am an old man, and have seen many troubles,--most of which never happened." -Mark Twain

Our Father: Somehow it seems safe to predict disaster,
And to talk failure.
Somehow we tend to spoil the blessing of the present
By projecting the curse of the future.
Let us be more than just predictors of rain;
Let us be builders of arks.
Allow us to be people of good judgment,
While at the same time being sensibly optimistic.
Teach us to trust ourselves, our fellowman,
And You.

"Moses Maimonides, whose picture you see hanging here in my office was the great rabbi and esteemed physician of the 12th century. He began each day with the following prayer:

Deem me worthy of seeing
in the sufferer
who seeks my advice
Neither rich nor poor
Friend or Foe
Good or Evil
Show me only the person."

This prayer may be a GER original...

Our Father: We want to be committed to Fairness,
In all we think, or say, or do.

Still, in our humanity, we find this difficult.
This commitment is so inclusive, and all pervading.
It touches us in all our relationships with people.

Help us in our renewed determination.
May our customers and neighbors,
Our associates and friends,
Our wives and children,
Have the privilege of being aware of our renewed commitment
to Fairness.

I'm Going to Get Out of Bed

Dear Lord:
So far today, God,
I've done all right.
I haven't gossiped,
haven't lost my
temper, haven't been
greedy, grumpy, nasty,
selfish or over-indulgent.
I'm very thankful for this.
But in a few minutes, God,
I'm going to get out of bed,
and from then on,
I'm probably going to need
a lot more help.

This prayer may be a GER original...

Our Father:
We sense today that you want us to be whole in all of life's dimensions,
In our personalities,
In our characters,
In our attitudes,
And in our physical beings.
We are at times impeded in achieving these goals,
because there is about us a lack of total commitment
to the truth.
May we remember that in our relationships with others,
The truth is a powerful tool in preventing
Embarrassment, and
Today help us to be dependable people.
Help us to care enough to be accurate and honest.

The Now
This prayer may be a GER original...

Our Father: We look forward too much,
And we look backward too much,
And thus we miss the passing moment.
We thank you for the marvelous gift of time,
And the miracle of life;
And while we give thanks,
Let us use each moment for significant purpose
And helpful, productive effort.

This prayer may be a GER original...

Our Father: Today we pause to express our thanks for all who serve
this organization of which we are a part.
Not only do we think of those who hold national
and state positions,
But of our (club, squadron, group) officers--
Our (commander and his/her staff) (president,
secretary, directors) (chairman and board),
And all who serve us.
In a broad sense we are thanking you for the privilege
we have of being part of this (organization).
May we remember that our primary reason for existence
is in the opportunities to help and serve others.

Those Who Serve
This prayer may be a GER original...

Our Father: Today we would pray for those who serve us,
Those who supply our food and deliver our mail,
Those who assist us with our finances,
And those who help us in emergencies and sickness.
We thank you for those who teach and care for our children,
The people who provide the things we quite expect,
-- like water, lights, and trash collection.
For all of these, and many more, we give thanks.

Those Who Serve II
This prayer may be a GER original...

Our Father: Today we pray for those who serve us in difficult and
hostile situations.
We pray for all those whose duty it is to carry out
and enforce the laws which are made by those
whom we and others have elected to legislative office,
Those who assess our property,
And those who collect our taxes.
The police who issue citations,
The judges who must pass sentence.
The clerks who collect the fines.
Give them the spirit and wisdom to be fair and just,
And the courage to carry out their tasks impartially.
And in our dealings with them,
May we be as fair and understanding,
As we would that they should be with us.

The Satisfaction of Service
[While this prayer may be a GER original, it echos the work of Mary Cholmondeley, 1859-1925, author of "Letting Out the Reins."]

Our God: Let us understand that the waste of life
Lies in the love we have not shown,
In the powers we have not used,
In the selfish prudence which will risk nothing.
May we sense that when we totally
Shun the pain of vulnerability,
We totally miss happiness as well. Amen.

The Nation
This prayer may be a GER original...

Our Father: We pause to acknowledge our dependence upon you.
It is the principles of your character that have made our
nation great.
It is Your righteousness that exalts a nation.
May we remember that it is folly to seek to be wise
apart from Wisdom,
Self-deceit to endeavor to be true while rejecting the Truth,
Blindness to seek illumination while prefering darkness,
And futile to seek existence apart from Your Life.

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Christmas 2004