Wednesday, December 24, 2014

100th Anniversary of the John Muir's Passing

Remembering John Muir, who died 100 years ago today on Christmas Eve, 1914. For me there is no writer who inspires such love for nature and wild places as when I'm reading John Muir. It's hard to believe he's not sauntering up some beautiful trail even now. Rather than offer commentary on his life, I'll let Muir speak for himself with four selected quotes. Read, make a cup of tea, and drink deep.


"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls." — John Muir's journal, 1913, as quoted in John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe (1938).

"All the wild world is beautiful, and it matters but little where we go, to highlands or lowlands, woods or plains, on the sea or land or down among the crystals of waves or high in a balloon in the sky; through all the climates, hot or cold, storms and calms, everywhere and always we are in God's eternal beauty and love. So universally true is this, the spot where we chance to be always seems the best." — John Muir's journal, as quoted in John of the Mountains.

"One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature — inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last." — My First Summer in the Sierra (published 1911).

"The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as Heimgang – 'home-going.' So the snow-flowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea, and the rock-ferns, after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil. Myriads of rejoicing living creatures, daily, hourly, perhaps every moment sink into death’s arms, dust to dust, spirit to spirit-waited on, watched over, noticed only by their Maker, each arriving at its own Heaven-dealt destiny. All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried. Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s feast-all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share Heaven’s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity. 'Our lives are rounded with a sleep.' "
— John Muir's journal, as quoted in John of the Mountains.

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