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Creator Guide,

I have most everything
I want, my needs
are more than simply

you’ve more than simply earned
my trust.

You invite my tired bones
to lie down in the grass,

You take me to your favourite
camping spot
by the lake
to watch the water’s surface
turn to glass
at sunset.

You restore
spirit and soul
with tree and leaf,
with sand and soil and rock,
cloud and breeze.

You lead me
ever on
the narrow path
that is blazed for my feet
through the wood of this world,

for your own sake your
own reasons

which I see
but dimly and fleetingly
between the trees.

Yes. Even though
I go barefoot
through the darkest dense forest
with only shadows
for company,

and must squeeze myself
between the rock
of my mortality
and the hard place
of never ever wanting to leave
life and its beauty

I swallow my fear
of anything bad happening

because you’re here:

your carved walking stick
and your trusty hatchet
are a comfort.

You gather firewood
and prepare
a veritable banquet
of wild edibles
in the presence
of every demon
black dog and dementor
I have ever faced.

You wash my hair in the lake.

My tin camp cup overflows.

I can hardly believe
how confident I feel
this goodness
and the mercy that falls
as a light rain
with the sun shining through

will accompany and surround me
all the days I have left to live

and I will dwell
with my friends
inside the tent
of my wilderness guide
and Lord

and the circle
will be unbroken
around the campfire,

and there will be no more pain
or sorrow
on all your holy mountain
or in the streets of this city

or in Kamloops
or Ukraine

and we will sit on tree stumps
together again
rapt with joy
listening to the sounds
of creation restored

singing folk songs
gazing into
the pentecostal flames.

Photo by Alex Perri on Unsplash

John Terpstra

John Terpstra has published ten slim volumes of poetry, the most recent being Call Me Home (Gaspereau Press, 2021), as well as five works of creative non-fiction, including The Boys, or, Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter, and two books of prayers, Wild Hope and In the Company of All (St. Thomas Poetry Series). One of his poems, called "Giants," is emblazoned on a plaque that stands on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking downtown Hamilton, Ontario, where he lives and works as a cabinetmaker.


  • Dawn Muller says:

    As one who also loves (Michigan) camping, I appreciate your heavenly metaphor.

  • Emily Brink says:

    Thanks, John, loved this, and also the connection to your reading it in public, which is what worship services are, with readers expanded here in this podcast. Psalm 23 indeed….

    • Thanks, Emily. I’m glad you liked it. Loved it is even better. Would you perchance be interested in seeing a communion liturgy I recently wrote? It was set to music by Bart Nameth, our church Music Director, who also wrote the music for a couple of hymns that Lee Hardy wrote. The liturgy is called “Embody Me”. All the best, John

      • D.S. Martin says:

        Hi John. It’s good to imagine your camping scene in light of Psalm 23. Let me know how I might hear your “Embody Me”. I look forward to seeing you in Toronto – November 19th. Blessings, Don