April 20, 2018

A Prayer for Vacations - Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (National Parks Trip #1)

This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

Grand Teton National Park is one of my husband’s favorite Parks.  The Historic District down near Menor’s Ferry is the area that calls to him the most, I think.  He loves exploring the flatlands near the Snake River with the craggy peaks of the Teton Range providing a rugged backdrop against the broad blue sky.

It is in this area that the iconic photo that appears on SO many calendars can be taken: horses grazing behind an old rail fence, with one or more of the Park’s historic buildings in the background.

These peaks can be intimidating with their glaciers and their jagged peaks, but the horses grazing contentedly in the fields tend to blur the harshness of the landscape and bring a quiet peace to this area of the Park.
It is here that you can find the Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration – a small house of worship that was built in 1925 to serve the tourists who vacationed at local dude ranches that stretched along the bottom of the Teton Range, as well as the employees who worked at the ranches.

The tiny Chapel, which seats 65 people, was built to prevent tourists from having to travel all the way to Jackson Hole to attend Sunday services at St. John’s Episcopal Church.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.  The rustic Chapel is built of lodgepole pine; its pews are made of quaking aspen.  Behind the altar is a beautiful plate glass window which frames the rugged Tetons beyond just perfectly.

Holy Communion services are still held every Sunday during the summer and the Chapel is available for wedding ceremonies from June through September based upon the availability of the clergy.  It is a place for quiet meditation, thoughtful introspection and a fervent prayer of gratitude for the many wild and beautiful places like this one that can be found throughout our country.

Although I no longer attend regular church services, I find that exploring the great outdoors provides me with a good deal of uninterrupted time to think about my values, my character and the way I intend to live my life.  It may not be a building made of wood or stone, but Nature is my cathedral now and a safe haven where peace and solitude warm my heart and fill my soul.

I have a simple brochure from the Chapel of the Transfiguration that I picked up during our National Parks trip in 2007.  On the back is a prayer, written by Hugh L. Burleson who was a bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota from 1916 to 1931.  For anyone so inclined, I’ve copied it below.  Please forgive my revisions – I’ve replaced Thou and Thy with the more modern You and Your for easier reading.

A Prayer for Vacations

Loving Father, who did make this earth so fair; open our eyes to see its wonders and our hearts to feel its beauty.  In our days of refreshment and recreation draw us nearer to You through the things which You have made.  May the joy of Your sunshine, the quiet of Your forests, the murmur of Your streams, and the steadfast strength of Your everlasting hills teach us the deep secret of Your peace.  Calm our fretful spirits.  Deepen the current of our shallow lives.  Renew in us faith and courage, physical strength, and spiritual vision, that we may know ourselves to be safely held in Your strong hands, and may joyfully conform our lives to Your great purposes.  From this life, so near to nature’s heart may we drink in new strength to help us reach the restless hearts of women and men.  Give us Your secret, and the power to share it with our fellows; that we may go back to the world and its duties stronger, simpler, sweeter; and may become more worthy messengers of Him who saw His Father’s goodness in the sparrow’s flight, and His Father’s love in the beauty which clothes the lilies of the field.  We ask it for His dear sake.  Amen.

Travel safely, my friends.  Thank you for stopping by and please do come back to visit again soon.


  1. That section of Wyoming is so beautiful as to almost defy description. We've been through it twice, most recently in 2014, and have wonderful memories from both trips. While hiking in the Grand Tetons one morning, working our way around Jenny Lake along the less populated far side, a large gray fox came trotting down the trail toward us, as marmots all along both sides of the trail raised the alarm. We stopped in our tracks and just watched it all play out. Afterward I commented to my husband, 'Clearly this is their world and we are just visiting.'

    Gorgeous, amazing place!

    1. What a treat! Your experience with the fox and marmots was your reward for your willingness to step away from the crowds and explore a quieter section of the park. I like the fact that there are places within the Parks that make you feel like you’re a world away from the rest of civilization. Between the scenery and the solitude, I always come away feeling refreshed and content.


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