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Muir Lodge - An Appreciation

by Mary Frances Kellogg

From Sierra Club Bulletin, John Muir Memorial Number, Vol. 10, No. 1 (January, 1916).

Of the worship due our western mountains, not a tithe has been paid. Nor does the finest homage come from tourists poured into resorts by swarming cities, but from the winnowed few who behold the snow-girdled peaks, the innumerable mountain lakelets and the myriads of flower-enameled, fern-brocaded meadows circled by majestic sequoias. And how many of these elect were imbued with enthusiasm by John Muir's matchless word-pictures! This above all is both his legacy to us and his own crown of glory to have taught us his beauty-lore.

So John Muir has no need of a memorial. Rather do we long to express, though never so inadequately, the thanks we owe him. From magnificent glaciers, and forests, and mountains, even down to our own modest mountain home, all borrow honor from his name.

If that which is essentially material; if that which makes easeful the mountaineer's toil; if that which cements friendships of the out-of-doors - if such may stand as an appreciation of one so predominantly of the spirit, who shunned no privation or hardship if it brought him into harmony with wildness, whose feet wandered so much alone and whose passionate search for understanding of the sculpturing of the ages found so few kindred souls then Muir Lodge is, as intended, an appreciation of John Muir. Though he walked alone, he valued friendship as one of the finest of mortal possessions.

Muir Lodge is a brief home for the wayfarer, ever urging beyond -- on -- on, up the wonder-trails leading over the heights and far within the mountain barriers. In its simple plainness it is appropriate. No complications of thought, language or character were his. All his life was as openly inspiring as one of his own books.

John Muir could teach us because, like all great men, he exemplified a singleness of purpose - a perfect absorption in that to which he was dedicated. Because he himself reverently adored, he was able to give to us something of the majesty of the mountains, the glory of the glaciers, the records of the rocks, the teachings of the trees, the songs of the streams, the friendliness of the flowers. Material as these things are they aroused in John Muir a very white heat of devotion - a devotion his writings breathe in every line. John Muir's lofty worship, which thanked God for every good day and each bit of loveliness, must have been most acceptable to the Maker of the Universe, who saw that His works were good. Here is a man we may delight to honor. How the memory of him steadies us when our own understanding of essentials becomes warped.

The first time I ever saw John Muir he spoke of his intention to build some day a home close under the Sierra Madre Mountains. He often later spoke of this longing. And though It was never our good fortune to have him dwelling among us, et in Muir Lodge we have a sort of shrine for his spirit, where none may sojourn without receiving the benediction of the mountains, which John Muir, more than any other, taught us to know aright. On the wall his pictured face first greets the entering guest.

Such a true, simple heart could not fail to love to be loved. At the time of the dedication of Muir Lodge, he wrote, "I'm very glad to get the picture of the fine Muir Lodge. It's pleasant to be remembered in this way in the midst of this long-drawn-out battle for our national parks."

Source: Sierra Club Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 1 (1916 January)

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