If summer is come (as of Tuesday), can vacation be far behind? Unless we’re in for a stay-cation, that means getting out of town, finding our way somewhere else. When we live in town and work in the city, we often head for someplace far from “civilization,” remote, wild. I always develop palpitations when I reach some cabin by the water and find that there is no cell reception. The anxiety lasts about a day and is invariably followed by sheer delight.
There is something healing and restorative about being in nature, especially for us who live a kind of unnatural life. John Muir founded the Sierra Club in 1892, partly to encourage urbanites to flee cities and find their way back into nature. In 1901 Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” If Muir was saying this 110 years ago, how much more do we need to hear this now?
Muir hoped that once they were reunited with the natural world, people would work to protect and preserve wilderness. “It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods,” he wrote, “trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries since Christ’s time—and long before that—God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools, —only Uncle Sam can do that.”
So, happy summer to you. I hope you find your way to some corner of God’s wild kingdom, if only for a lazy day.