Sep 18 2013

John Muir and the Creator’s Mirror

_DSC6272I was reading excerpts from John Muir’s journals recently.  Doing so made me wish once again that I could have walked a few trails with him.  I don’t think that there have been many who have seen God in Creation better than Muir.  Writing from his beloved Sierras he once wrote about his surroundings: “…every crystal, every flower a window opening into heaven, a mirror reflecting the Creator.”  I like the analogy of nature being like the Creator’s mirror.  Through Creation we are offered a picture of God.  I cannot help but wonder if more people would be prone to turn to God if they realized that in nature we find God’s reflection.  Muir encouraged people to recognize this.  I’m trying to do the same.

Half Dome from Olmstead Point (h) crI often ask people I meet if they have ever read John Muir’s writings.  I’m always a bit disappointed when the answer is no.  Muir may have died ninety-nine years ago but his life and writings remain inspirational for those who take the time to ponder his words.  If you have not read John Muir, consider this sample from one of his journal entries penned while hiking through Yosemite.

“The snow on the high mountains is melting fast, and the streams are singing bank-full, swaying softly through the level meadows and bogs, quivering with sun-spangles, swirling in pot-holes, resting in deep pools, leaping, shouting in wild, exulting energy over rough boulder dams, joyful, beautiful in all their forms.  No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons.  This quick, inevitable interest attaching to everything seems marvelous until the hand of God becomes visible; then it seems reasonable that what interests Him may well interest us.”

_DSC5465Muir had no trouble seeing God in Creation.  He believed that nature offered us innumerable “divine lessons.”  Throughout Creation he saw “the hand of God” and felt that the Creator was calling us to pay attention to the things He made.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you are looking for a guide to help you experience the divine in the world around you, you won’t find a better one than John Muir.  I encourage you to read his works.  Most of his books can be downloaded to electronic readers free of charge.  Reading John Muir’s books won’t cost you a thing but they will make you richer.  Much richer!


(I took all three of the pictures used here in Yosemite National Park.)

Oct 16 2009

Quieting Time

CA-EastSierras18When I am doing a workshop in a natural area, I often tell my students that we will stay out past sunset. It is really true that the light changes then, and you can never predict exactly what you will get.

This photo was taken at Lake Tenaya in Yosemite after sunset during a workshop. Some of my group had come down here by the lake before sunset, then the rest of the group came later. Everyone was photographing after sunset, well after sunset. Obviously, the sun is still hitting the top of the mountain in this image, but everything below is well past sunset. This lake sits by a road and this is the time that everyone is leaving the park. You have to frame your image so that you do not pick up headlights along one shoreline.

There is something very magical about this time. Maybe in this case, the feeling was enhanced by feeling apart from all the people leaving the park now that the sun had set. They were missing something very special.

My group spread out along the lake. I could not help but think of God. Yes, you could hear cars, but being outside at this time was a quieting time. I felt at peace, yet also excited to watch the colors change and dark descend upon us. This is always such a peaceful, yet energizing time for me. I know that sounds contradictory, but it happens just that way. I feel like God is there telling me that this is a beautiful world to be excited about and also a time to relax and enjoy it. I cannot explain it all, but for me, I feel enveloped in God’s world and in God’s care. I think that comes in part because there is nothing around to take away from this — no cell phones, no e-mail, no traffic. Some  people might be disturbed by the cars on the road, but for me, that created a stronger contrast to what I was experiencing and made it all the better. These are times I truly feel close to God.

— Rob