When I was a kid I went to a United Methodist church camp. It was so new they hadn’t had time to ruin it with facilities, so they lashed some saplings together for hogans and lean-tos, and cooked over the campfire and called it a “pioneer camp.” 500 acres of woods, a gravelly creek called The Little Missouri with arrowheads and fossils, the foundation and rotting logs of the first log cabin in the county, an Indian marker tree, wild blackberries. All it needed was a good ghost story. So I wrote one. Please judge this poem gently. It was written when I was thirteen.

The Ghosts of Jensen Woods

Long ago when the land was wild
and the streams ran full with joy

Indians followed their long-held ways
in the woods of Illinois.

One of the braves was tall and young,
head and shoulders above the rest.

He hunted and fished with the other braves,
until the wagon came west.

He knew the birds and he knew the trees,
and he smiled at the Indian maids,

Until in the settlers’ wagon he saw
a girl with yellow braids.

He watched as they built a cabin of logs,
and he watched the settlers’ daughter,

And he waited for her down by the stream
one day when she came for water.

She could not run and she dared not scream,
she could only stand and stare

At the Indian boy whose bright black eyes
looked into her own blue pair.

The stream rippled by in silence,
and neither said a word.

The sound of the bright red cardinal
was all that could be heard.

He smiled at her and plucked a primrose,
as yellow as it could be,

Then matched it to her yellow braid,
and held it so she could see.</span>

They stood on the bank in silence
and listened to the creek.

The stream was their common language,
so they didn’t need to speak.

A smile at a time, a word at a time
each learned the other’s ways;

As they shared their stolen hours
through the passing summer days.

But it was the time of the Black Hawk War,
those years of fire and blood

When the Fox and Sauk made their last great stand
against the white man’s flood.

What could he do, what course could he choose
when the council of war set a raid?

Let them burn the cabin to the ground,
but they would not harm her braid!

He waited for her as he did each night, where
she always came for water,

And the only thought he had in his mind
was to save the settlers’ daughter.

But the settler had heard of his daughter’s friend,
and had locked her in her room.

He came to the creek with a gun in his hand
not knowing he carried her doom.

He shot the tall young Indian who had
come to warn of trouble.

He returned to his house, but all he found
was smoking, flaming rubble.

If you listen closely, the Little Missouri
will tell of the lovers’ plight;

And they say that still his ghost appears
by the creek on a moonlight night.

Then rustling the leaves of the willow trees
comes a figure pale and fair

With an armful of yellow flowers
that match her golden hair.

And some have seen, in the dark of the moon,
a shape like a man on his knees,

And heard a father’s anguished prayer
whispering in the breeze.

—Kathleen Unger Hart

Campers’ Heaven

I think that Heaven must be like this —
A green eternity of bliss
And friends to talk with if you like
And – endlessly – a joyous hike.
Along the Heavenly hiking trail
Are monuments. In very dale
And meadow place we see a spot
Telling a tale of a battle fought;
A battle not of guns and men
But more — a fight of man with wrong,
In faith that right must win;
A battle won, but not for long.
Perhaps it tells of faith in God —
Faith that bade men turn the sod —
Faith that bade men plow and sow —
Faith that God would make it grow.

A song, a friend, a forest trail,
A tale of faith that could not fail.

I think that Heaven must be like this —
A walk along a summer stream
With springs of joy and pools of bliss
And shady spots with time to dream,
To feel the depths of water cold
Refresh the travel-weary soul,
And see where once a river rolled
For ages toward its ocean goal.
A creek bed tells of ages past
Of life which with the ages moved
Until the highest form at last —
The form that has God’s power proved.
The wonders of the world today
Are small compared with ancient clay
Or beads embedded deep in stone
or wild day-lilies of a deep orange tone.

A creek, a pool, an ancient bead,
A tale of God in plant and seed.

I think that Heaven must be like this —
A blue eternity of bliss —
A bliss as deep as a summer sky
When clouds of joy are blowing by.
The morning sunrise tells of power
Displayed by every meadow flower
And witnessed to by streams that flow
Taking green life wherever they go.
The evening sky, with sunset’s glory,
Continues with the wondrous story
Of Power and Love personified
And Humbleness replacing Pride.
The stars repeat the tale of love —
Love that set the spheres above
And placed the sun and moon on high
And sprinkled stars throughout the sky,

The sun, the stars, the sky above,
The tale of our Creator’s love.

Day Lilies

Close by the fallen cabin logs, along the creek,
beneath the trees,

The wild day lilies bright and orange,
stir gently in the summer breeze.

A pioneer once planted them
a hundred and fifty years ago

To make him think of flowers at home,
and friends back there he used to know.

Because the orange day lilies stand,
I know he came, I know he lived.

Close by those orange day lilies now I come
to think a while and pray.

“Oh, Greatest Pioneer of All, born
long ago and far away,

Help me stand witness to Your life so
everyone may know Your power

And make the same remark of me
that I make of these bright orange flowers:

‘Because that Christian witness stands,
I know He came, I know He lives.’


Pioneers for Jesus

Pioneers for Jesus – that’s what we need today;
pioneers who can’t get lost, for Jesus shows the way;
pioneers who work and live with just one thought in mind:
to make the pathway easier for someone else to find.

Dear Lord, make me Thy pioneer for all my life, I pray,
in everything I ever do and every word I say.
And when it seems the trail’s so steep that I must fall behind
please guide me to Thy silent woods, and give me peace of mind.