Aug 15 2010

John of the Mountains

MR 878Last week I shared with you the names of some very special photographers who have been mentors to me when it comes to seeing and photographing Creation.  There is yet another person I also have to point to as a mentor.  He died decades before I was born and as far as I know never took a photograph with a camera.  Yet through his writings I have probably learned more about seeing the spiritual side of nature than from anyone else.  That person is John Muir.

I discovered John Muir’s writings about the same time I decided to take up photography.  I immediately fell in love with his writings.  I admired the enthusiasm he exhibited as he described nature and how he frequently used scripture and theological language to express what he experienced in nature.

ONP 739One of my favorite books is John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe.  The following passage, written by Muir on one of his voyages to Alaska, is a prime example of what drew me to Muir.

“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, and it requires a distinct effort of the will to get oneself in motion for a change of place.”

Later, in the same entry Muir adds, “And thus we find in the fields of Nature no place that is blank or barren; every spot on land or sea is covered with harvests, and these harvests are always ripe and ready to be gathered, and no toiler is ever underpaid.  Not in these fields, God’s wilds, will you ever hear the sad moan of disappointment, ‘All is vanity.’”

I suspect many of you are already familiar with the life and writings of John Muir.  If not, I encourage you to become familiar with them.  I know no better guide to seeing Creation.


(The top image was taken at sunset in Mount Rainier National Park.  The tide pool  image was taken at Tongue Point on the Olympic Peninsula.)