By: Jessica Lee
John Muir, a Scottish-American, was an influential naturalist, environmental activist, and distinguished writer. He is known as John of the Mountains and as the Father of National Parks. He had a strong passion in his heart for nature – for loving it, living in it, and preserving it. On Earth Day, it seems only fitting to remember the legacy of John Muir, and hopefully, be inspired to rejoice in nature as much as he did.
John Muir established Yosemite National Park in California, where he wrote his first book in a cabin that he built next to a stream. His letters, essays, and poems have influenced many great leaders into continuing the preservation of national parks.
“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – The Yosemite by John Muir
He was known to climb up cliffs, cheer at the beauty of hills and valleys, and inspect every plant and flower nearby. His enthusiasm for creation was something to be admired. I can only imagine how his heart would break if he saw kids sitting inside on their electronic devices instead of climbing trees and exploring creeks.
He was also described as restless. He walked 1,000 miles from Kentucky to Florida, he studied shells and flowers in Cuba, he made four trips to Alaska, and he hiked the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. Reading about his travels and his passion to explore the world inspires me to get off the couch, get outside, take a trip to the beach, or go to a nearby park.
“My fire was in all its glory about midnight, and, having made a bark shed to shelter me from the rain and partially dry my clothing, I had nothing to do but look and listen and join the trees in their hymns and prayers.” - Travels in Alaska by John Muir
I fell in love with John Muir’s legacy when I was hiking the Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. Although I was without running water and electricity, the beautiful mountains, trees, wild animals, and dirt paths surrounded me. And I felt so much joy. Breathing in the crisp air, feeling the burning sun, hearing the singing birds. It’s hard not to feel joyful when you’re surrounded by nature, and that’s exactly what John Muir describes in his writings.
We have a challenge. Today is a day where we should be celebrating all that our Earth has to offer – the trees, the flowers, the water, the beauty of God’s creation. Open your windows today, get outside, lay out on the grass, take a walk. Let’s learn to love and take care of the earth.
“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.” – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir by Linnie Marsh Wolfe