Today, April 21, is John Muir’s birthday! Born in Scotland, he came to the United States and then to California. A devoted family man with his home in Martinez, he took over his father-in-law’s sheep business for ten years. Taking the sheep (and noticing their devastating effect) up to the Sierra Nevada mountains led him to discover the majestic beauty of Yosemite. That experience changed his life and priorities. The wilderness became his world, with immense consequences. One was his invitation to President Teddy Roosevelt to camp overnight with him in Yosemite. In that one overnight experience he persuaded the President to save it as a National Park. With eyes now open to the beauty of creation, Roosevelt went on to save other places, establishing the National Park System.
I grew up with admiration and affection for John Muir, since my grandparents, then parents, camped every year in Yosemite, as we did throughout my childhood and youth. Muir gloried in every bit of nature, from the delicate colors of the Kaweah meadow flowers, to the overwhelming grandeur of Yosemite Falls seen from above. He even tied himself to the top of a tree one time to experience the wildness of a mountain storm! Muir called the Sierra Nevada “the Range of Light,” and his poetic words* have inspired me and countless others to try to be a faithful steward of the earth with integrity and consistency.
Thank You, God, for John Muir’s life, witness and legacy! Invite, goad and empower us to truly care for Your earth and for all creatures. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
* – I highly recommend reading The Wilderness World of John Muir, edited by Edwin Way Teale.
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