Saturday, January 19, 2013

QOTM...*: John Muir

(* Quote of the Month)

"Look at that now… And to think that God should plan to bring us feckless creatures here at just the right moment, and then flash such glories at us! Man, we are not worthy of such honor! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!"

                                                                    ~~ John Muir  

A bit about John Muir
'The Valley' from Sequoia NP area

I love this quote. Maybe it is just because I have never, as a wordsmith, had occasion to use the word feckless in a sentence before! No, not really, I love the quote because I love John Muir. He is one of the very few well-known naturalists who was unabashed in his willingness to attribute nature’s beauty to a creative Creator, and to advocate for our role, as God’s people, to be responsible stewards of the earth.

Yosemite Falls (photos by R&G Mylander)

Often referred to as ‘the father of national parks,’ Muir (1838-1914) was an eccentric and impassioned American naturalist of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Born in Scotland and raised in rural Wisconsin in perhaps an overly strict Christian home, he nonetheless practiced a lifelong faith, something reflected often in his writings and dealings. He believed that the primary source for understanding God best was ‘the book of nature’ that God had provided us.

Half Dome and Yosemite Creek, Yosemite NP

As a young man working in an Indiana wagon-wheel factory, he suffered an eye injury that nearly blinded him; by the time he recovered, he had made a personal vow should his eyesight be restored to pursue with all his heart his passion for the study of nature. And so he did. In the process he was instrumental in the founding of the Sierra Club, and helped establish Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, recognizing the enormous value of preserving the incredible beauty of these areas. He was friend to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Teddy Roosevelt, utilizing whatever bully pulpit he could find to advocate respect for creation. Muir Woods National Monument, a National Park unit just north of San Francisco, is named after him.
The General Sherman Sequoia, Sequoia NP

One of my favorite ‘wish I’d thought of that’ anecdotes about Muir comes from his early years in the Yosemite Valley of California: his first two years there he lived in a small cabin that he built right on Yosemite Creek, constructed in such a way that the stream ran openly through a corner of the room so he could hear it all the day long. How’s THAT for a white noise machine!

My two favorite books of his are My First Summer in the Sierra and Travels in Alaska. There is also a beautifully illustrated little boardbook for children that tells his story, John Muir: America’s Naturalist.

 ~~RGM, January 18, 2013

P.S. The General Sherman Sequoia is 37 feet in diameter at the base, wider than a three-car garage, and is the world's largest tree by mass. See the December 2012 National Geographic for photos and cover story of the world's second largest, The President, also in Sequoia NP. Included is an amazing fold-out composite pic of the entire tree, top to bottom. 


  1. Living as we do just 18 miles from Muir's homestead in Martinez, CA, I drive by often and am reminded of how Muir trekked from here to his beloved Yosemite. I'm inspired by his passion and persistence, not to mention simple physical conditioning, and grateful for the legacy he and folks like Ansel Adams have left us. Having climbed to to top of many trees in my youth, I can imagine climbing as he did, to the top of a great evergreen, and hanging on for dear life as a storm sways the tree back and forth, lashing with wind and rain, feeling the power and knowing the creator. One of these days we'll have to head to the great valley together and hike a bit.

    1. Yes, I have also often thought it would be awesome to climb a tree in a storm, Jim, up there like Lieutenant Dan on the shrimp boat mast in Forrest Gump! When we are finally able to get out your way again, let's do that valley hike. Love you guys, Rick

  2. I stumbled across your blog while searching for John Muir quotes and pictures of mountains to go with them. I am glad that I did. I think I may be a misplaced hippie since I long for the beauty and silence of the mountains and forests of this great land of ours.

    1. Glad you found it, Scott! May you find what you are looking for in God's amazing creation. It constantly feeds my spirit. Rick