Three Missing Words

This past Sunday Pat O’Hara and I stopped by the visitor center at Acadia National Park. Along the path to the center there are a number of interpretive signs. One in particular caught my eye because it included my favorite saying by John Muir. (You can see a portion of the sign above.) As I read the quote I told Pat “There’s something missing.” For some reason the National Park Service chose to leave out the words “and pray in”. Those words belong where you see the “…”. Pat suggested we type the missing words and tape them on the sign. Perhaps we should have.


It does bother me that the the three words are missing. It bothers me because I feel just as strongly as John Muir did that the beauty of Creation is meant to lead us into communion with God. I feel that places of beauty are conducive to prayer. They certainly are for me.

This week as I have enjoyed the beauty of Acadia National Park I have found myself time and time again offering praise to my Creator for the wonders of nature. I have felt close to my Savior as I’ve walked the trails and stood upon the rocks overlooking the ocean. I have uttered the words “Thank you, Lord” countless times. Yesterday I spent some time at Otter Cove upon the recommendation of Rob. As I sat on the rocks I felt as though God were telling me that He was my Rock of refuge, my strong foundation, and the source of my strength. I was reminded that Christ is the “solid rock upon which I stand” and that “all other ground is sinking sand.” The beauty of Otter Cove ushered me into a sweet time of prayer.

There’s just something about natural places of beauty that move me spiritually, and I know I am not the only one. Muir was exactly right; we all need such places “to play in and pray in.” We need “places where nature
may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul.”
That is one reason why I am such a supporter of our national parks and wilderness areas. We need them not just to protect ecosystems, wildlife and unique geographical locations but so that we might have a place to retreat to–beautiful places where we can feel God’s nearness and pray.

I really don’t know why the National Park Service felt it necessary to remove the three words from Muir’s quote. Perhaps it was an effort to be “politically correct,” though I hardly think many, if any, would find the words offensive. Regardless, their omission did not lessen my inclination to pray in Acadia National Park and I would like to think that will be true for others as well.


 (I took the bottom two pictures yesterday at Otter Cove in Acadia National Park.)