Monday, November 15, 2010


Tis time to take my body up to a mountain peak that speaks. Tis my soul that longs to sing in the wind and spend a night in the wild among the beasts and the blooms. A three day get-away into the sculptures fashioned by the Father for my leisure and pleasure. To smile awhile in His presence -- to accept His most generous present of mighty trees that dwarf me into thanksgiving. Responding to Thy precious call, I run. In 1851 the astonishing beauty of Yosemite Valley and the geyser wonderland of Yellowstone give birth to the radical idea of creating national parks for the enjoyment of everyone. John Muir is the eloquent defender of nature and the poet of the trees, canyons and uninterrupted vista's created by God to nurture the souls of mankind. Because the magnificent natural wonders of the land should be available not to a privileged few, but to everyone, on June 30, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a law to preserve forever a beautiful valley and a grove of trees that he had never seen. John Muir believed when he looked upon the mountains he saw what God created to restore the soul of man. The winds sing, and the clouds hover atop the mountain where all our answers lay. Our non-verbal response to nature, our reply to the lesson of towering tall trees, is that we stand erect, that we look across time and know that this too shall pass, but while we are here, we can weather any storm with the dignity of swaying trees. The Rock of ages can only be heard as we stand still, and in awe --- it is then that we hear the voice of God. The gospel of nature was written by John Muir and as a result 60 acres wisely were set aside public use, to dwell within the sacred and refresh and bask in the garden of Eden as God intended. Born in Dunbar, Scotland and raised in Wisconsin, John Muir was a natural-born scientist who studied geology and botany at the University of Wisconsin. By the age 11, Muir was able to recite three-quarters of the Old Testament by heart, and all of the New Testament. Muir felt a spiritual connection to nature; he believed that mankind is just one part of an interconnected natural world, not its master, and that God is revealed through nature. Muir wrote of Yosemite that it was "by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter...the sanctum sanctorum of the Sierra." When he was not running the sawmill, Muir devoted all his free time to exploring the valley. Like Muir I too feel a deep, spiritual connection to the moss covered rocks, the redwoods that direct me to look up, the creatures that crawl, and the eagles that soar. While I yet live close enough to drive up Priest Grade Road, I choose to loose all the burdens of this world and devote myself to under
standing His wild invigorating creation. To allow the flower to speak in the language of beauty and to be transformed once again by our communication. Muir moved to Oakland to begin work on a series of reports and articles about Yosemite. Barbara shall move to Lake Chapala to begin a report of what else God has created for my soul. The written Word that inspired Muir to marvel at the majesty of the whole creation, is the same living Word that compels Barbara to write and articulate a heart that overflows with graditude to simply breathe the crisp air while dazzling in the depth and height of a God that gives all of this to us. His abiding Love for us is evidenced in whatever shouts natural beauty at us. Nature is essential to our ability to walk this earth at any length --- "wildness is a necessity". We were created to appreciate places like Yosemite for reasons greater than their economic value. A wild forest still ministers to the souls of people, as it did John the Baptist. After five years of writing in Oakland, John Muir had become a famous voice for nature. Soon Muir began to yearn for the wilderness. Upon returning to Yosemite, Muir discovered that California had neglected his "sacred temple." Tunnels had been carved through the hearts of some of the big trees, meadows had been converted into hayfields and pastures, and the valley was littered with tin cans and garbage. As if that were not enough, the mountain ramparts in the Sierras above were being destroyed by sheep and lumbermen. Muir threw himself into what became a pitched battle to preserve the high country. He once again wrote articles describing both the region's beauty and its vulnerability and soon Congress was flooded with public petitions. Muir endured attacks on his integrity by opposing politicians, but finally, on October 1, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed into law a bill creating Yosemite National Park, and Sequoia National Park to protect two groves of Big Trees on the western flank of the Sierra Nevada, up highway 4 just outside of Arnold, California. Muir's three-night camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, was a night under the stars that forever changed conservation history. Muir was able to persuade Roosevelt to return Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to federal protection as part of Yosemite National Park. The trip had a lasting impact on the president. Roosevelt made a speech in Sacramento the next week saying "The night was clear and in the darkening isles of the great Sequioa grove, with the majestic trunks beautiful in color and semetry, rose around us like the pillars of the most ideal cathedral that was ever conceived, even by the fervor of the middle ages. Hermit Thrushes sang beautifully in the evening. Surely our people do not understand the rich heritage that is theirs. There is nothing more beautiful than Yosemite. Having the unchanged view of the Grand Canyon or the summit of Yosemite, the natural environment is infinitely more valuable spiritually and economically than anything man made or achieved. We must leave it as it is." These two greatly esteemed men John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt agreed that God touches our souls with His creation. Muir said of his time with Teddy "I had a perfectly glowing time with the president and the mountains. I never had a more interesting, hearty and manly companion. I stuffed him pretty well regarding the timber thieves and other spoilers of the forest." Muir was a founder and the first president of the Sierra Club. Muir Woods National Monument, is a grove of redwoods north of San Francisco named in his honor. John Muir remained a deeply religious man writing, "We all flow from one fountain—Soul. All are expressions of one love. God does not appear, and flow out, only from narrow chinks and round bored wells here and there in favored races and places, but He flows in grand undivided currents, shoreless and boundless over creeds and forms and all kinds of civilizations and peoples and beasts, saturating all and fountainizing all." He described the beauty of the Sierra Nevada as the Range of Light. "After spending time in the heart of it, rejoicing in the glorious floods of light, seeing the sunburst over icy peaks, the noonday radiance across the trees, a thousand dashing waterfalls, it is the most divinely beautiful mountain range I have ever seen." John Muir

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