Camp Martin Johnson History Part Five by Martin Johnson

When I built my house I built a sky light in the roof against the time when I could do some painting again. I knew I would not have any time to paint for a number of years but I had a good opportunity to study the beautiful things of nature and at the same time find that although I have not handled a brush for more than a quarter of a century I have not lost anything but gained much if my eyes and mind were always on the beautiful things in nature. Of course, the hands became stiff and hard, and it required a little time to get them broke in again, but they would soon limber up and respond to ones will when I quit using them for hard labor. The seventh summer I was here I worked too hard and got worn out and overheated and had a nervous breakdown with strange experiences. For nearly two weeks I did not try to sleep and it was like a dream night and day; although I did not try to do anything I was on my feet nearly all the time during those terrible days. One day I heard a most wonderful song of peace, it was like a choir of thousands of angels singing praises to God. The sound seemed to come from the skies in a southeasterly direction and every note had a beautiful color like the color of the rainbow that increased and diminished in volume as the sound increased or diminished. It was wonderful, at times soft and gentle and at times like the sound of many waters and indescribable. Most of this time I was travelling through space with beautiful lakes and rivers, and all things were perfect. All the waters were so very pure and clear. I saw many people, old and young, all very happy and their faces were lighted with a happy smile.

From the day I heard this beautiful and wonderful song I commenced to get better and could soon sleep. After that I recovered fast, and in a few days felt better than ever, although I was weak. Although I believe God has someting to do with this I don’t claim anything supernatural about it. After I got well I set to work to clear it up so that I could explain it to my own satisfaction. I always loved music and had in my soul the subjective starting point, also perhaps the birds singing and my imagination doing the rest. As for the colors, I know there were tears in my eyes as I looked in a southeasterly direction, having the sun on a slant I saw the colors of the rainbow and my imaginatio did the rest. The curve of the eye lid gave it the circle shape of the rainbow across the sky for a background. What wonderful gifts the Lord has given us, especially our imagination; but how often do people misuse and abuse this great gift by letting it run wild and on unworthy things.

When resorters began to come here and a few more settlers, we started a Sunday School in our school house, which I kept up about ten years, as long as there were enough children. When Catholic people began to come I worked with them until they got a priest and I lost them. After that I had Sunday School in my home during the summer when the resorters were here. By this time I had about 25 acres of land under cultivation and was in better circumstances, and I had a little orchard in bearing order and a few cattle. Still the thought would often come to me, “What am I doing this for?” I could never get away from the idea that I was doing it for some higher purpose, some purpose that would serve God and humanity.

In the northernmost end of my land is a beautiful high point that I would put in a few days each March, when the snow was off the hill and I could not work elsewhere. I left the nicest trees including the evergreens, and I had several offers to sell the point for a good price but never felt like letting it go because of my feeling about the future.

In 1923, Mr. Ralph Cooke and a committee representing the Young Men’s Christian Association in Chicago came and looked the place over and wanted it for a summer camp for boys, and they wanted the whole place. Then I knew what I had been working for. I was willing to sell the place for very much less than I had been offered, but I finally made up my mind to take a life lease on the point where my house stands and give the Young Men’s Christian Association the whole thing. I took an annuity sufficient to keep me as long I live and when I pass away they will have it all. And now may the good Lord bless “Y” work here and may all the boys and all who come here be blessed. God grant that these boys may grow up and attain strong, clean, healthy manhood.

The world has need of strong Christian men, more now than ever before. What a blessed thing itis for boys to get away from the city where there is so much noise and so much that is misleading. So much deceit, shame, and temptation, and to be able to get out to God’s country where they can be nearer HIm and see more of truth and less of untruth and evil. May the beautiful things that they have a chance to see here in this wonderful place inspire them. May it inspire them to a love for God and humanity and all that is beatiful and noble and true. What a happy world it would be if from sin and unbelief people would turn to God and praise him for his wonderful works with the children of men. Most people are like the bees and grubworms, they live for today and tomorrow without desire for the deeper, broader, higher, and fuller life. The life they are living is not worth being called life; it is only existence.

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