October 16, 2012

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park

I had planned a different post for today, but I found myself reluctant to leave the Black Hills of South Dakota quite yet so I decided to visit one of my favorite places on earth--Custer State Park.  My family has so many memories of camping, hiking and fishing in this beautiful park.  One year when we were camping there for a week I took my son Michael, who was about three at the time, on a hike and we ended up at log cabin where poet Badger Clark once lived.  A pair of his boots were on display, and for whatever reason the boots made a huge impression with my young son, and we spent the rest of the week 'hunting' for Badger Clark.  Michael would see a cabin or shelter and run up to it, shouting "Badger Clark, Badger Clark, I know where your boots are!"  To this day I cannot separate the poet from his boots, and I hope he is somewhere in a heaven that looks like Custer State Park, hiking the trails in his well loved boots.  Here's a beautiful poem of his that I have always loved...I hope you enjoy it too.

A Cowboy's Prayer
(Written for Mother)
Oh Lord, I've never lived where churches
    I love creation better as it stood
That day You finished it so long ago
    And looked upon Your work and called it
I know that others find You in the light
    That's sifted down through tinted window
And yet I seem to feel You near tonight
    In this dim, quiet starlight on the plains.
I thank You, Lord, that I am placed so well,
    That You have made my freedom so com-
That I'm no slave of whistle, clock or bell,
    Nor weak-eyed prisoner of wall and street.
Just let me live my life as I've begun
    And give me work that's open to the sky;
Make me a pardner of the wind and sun,
    And I won't ask a life that's soft or high.
Let me be easy on the man that's down;
    Let me be square and generous with all.
I'm careless sometimes, Lord, when I'm in
    But never let 'em say I'm mean or small!
Make me as big and open as the plains,
    As honest as the hawse between my knees,
Clean as the wind that blows behind the rains,
    Free as the hawk that circles down the
Forgive me, Lord, if sometimes I forget.
    You know about the reasons that are hid.
You understand the things that gall and fret;
    You know me better than my mother did.
Just keep an eye on all that's done and said
    And right me, sometimes, when I turn
And guide me on the long, dim, trail ahead
    That stretches upward toward the Great
 Badger Clark Cowboy Poet

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