What is true greatness?
Being a teacher, a fireman, a soldier. A forgiver, peacemaker. Being the man who saved our forests, valleys, mountains. Kept the wilderness wild.
A man like John Muir.
A recent visit to Yosemite National Park reacquainted me with the story of John Muir, much of which I had forgotten. He is the man who fought to place our national parks under federal protection, the man who gave us Yosemite, Yellowstone, and many more.
The grandfather of the American National Parks — hundreds of acres of natural beauty forever preserved.
Such a human mystery, isn’t it? In a world filled with death and destruction and those bent on destroying, we get a man like Muir once in a while. Someone who dedicated his life to protecting our mountains and forests and wild life from exploitation and made them our inheritance.
John Muir didn’t always win. Much as he tried. He lost his last battle, when he failed to have Hetch Hetchy Valley, just outside Yosemite, placed under federal protection. The loss was too much to bear for America’s most famous naturalist. He died a year after the valley was dammed for a reservoir, in 1913, at the age of 76.
While he died a disappointed man, Muir left behind countless of natural treasures and inspired us to look under the surface, to “climb the mountains and get their good tidings.”
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.” ~~ John Muir.
“Yosemite … is a place of transcendent beauty in the middle of what John Muir called the “Range of Light.” … Stirred by the music of Yosemite’s moving waters, the majesty of its granite faces, the lushness of its forests and meadows, the abundance of its animal life, the radiance of its mountain air, we remember how securely we are woven into this web of life we are.”
~~ Lorraine Anderson, in Yosemite Meditations
Images courtesy: http://www.na-sd.com, pbs.org, buenaparklibrary