Yosemite, Beauty & Inspired by Nature

Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue once observed that the Greek word for “beauty” is the same word for “calling”, and that a defining quality of beauty is that we feel more alive in its presence. Yosemite is a place of such power and profound beauty that we can’t help but feel awe and wonder in it’s presence and feel uplifted. Writers, painters and photographers have been drawing on this inspiration for decades.

I have had to good fortune to have a close relationship with Yosemite throughout my life beginning from the time I was a baby and my mother who had a great love of Nature took my brother and me camping there. As a teenager I began backpacking in the high country of Yosemite and then out of college I lived for two years in the Valley where I worked teaching natural science for Yosemite Institute. During my early years in Yosemite I was especially inspired by John Muir, (1838 to 1914), the Scottish born American naturalist, author and early advocate of wilderness preservation, who helped establish Yosemite National Park. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in the Sierra Nevada have touched millions. Here are some of my favorite quotes of his that really convey the sense of aliveness and inspiration that such beauty and connecting to Nature can bring.

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.

In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.

Everybody 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 power of imagination makes us infinite.

There is a love of wild nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

And here’s a poem of mine inspired by both Yosemite and John Muir about birds that dwell along the mountain streams.

Water Ouzels

Lilting voices flood
fast mountain streams.
Fly on furious wings

behind rushing cascades,
below the rippled surface
bobbing for bugs.

John Muir called them
hummingbirds of waterfalls,
they edge his sacred streams,

skimming bubbling waves
of tumbling water,
little gray dancers

haunt river rocks on bending
knees, genuflecting to a God
everywhere and nowhere.

– Suzanne Murray

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