"The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing.
I wholeheartedly agree with this deeply spiritual Scotsman whose environmental conservation advocacy helped save some of the most beautiful parts of America's wilderness from loggers’ axes and the livestock industry. The Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park are the gifts, the crown jewels, we can all enjoy today as a result of his 'labor of love'.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to dedicate this post to 'John of the Mountains' who, in his own words, "cared to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness."
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."
One can learn about the life and travels of John Muir from various sources, hence I am not going to repeat a lot of the details here. However, it is clear that throughout his life's journey he wore many hats. Besides of being one of the most influential naturalists, Muir was also an environmental philosopher, inventor, zoologist, botanist, glaciologist, and last but not least, an author whose divinely inspired writings have touched the hearts of nature lovers all over the world.
"Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts."
“The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.”
Muir's insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding of natural phenomena is echoed in the now rather famous quote above. His commitment to rigorous study and learning took him for "A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf" of Mexico and other wild areas across North America. He particularly reveled in the majestic beauty of the Yosemite Valley and in a letter to one of his friends he wrote, "It is by far the grandest of all of His special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter. It must be the sanctum sanctorum of the Sierras."
Muir clearly saw the interconnectedness of everything around him.
"Nature is one, and to me the greatest delight of observation and study is to discover new unities in this all-embracing and eternal harmony."
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
Reading Muir's writings brought me a lot of joy. My mind was transported back to the forests and mountains I previously visited either on my bike or on foot with a backpack. Love and reverence for Nature permeate countless passages. Their warmth flows right into your heart. Numerous paragraphs remind me that, in fact, I am connected to the All.
Luckily, you do not have to take my word for it. You can just read his books or, even better, go to the woods near you and experience the uniting and healing power of Nature yourself.
"I never saw a disconnected tree."
I would like to conclude this post with a quote full of meaning and wisdom so deep it reached the core of my being. May it encourage you to go outside and enjoy the life enhancing gifts of Nature.
“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings.