John Muir’s Heaven

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

My wife and I just returned from 5 days by (and IN) Lake Tahoe.

Walking, biking, swimming. . .but mostly just looking at the beauty.  You can’t help yourself.  The view, the colors, the sound on the shore and in the pines.  You sense you are a part of this great piece of liquid art (unless you’re jetskiing or powerboating or cranking up the boombox on the beach with your barking dog. . .but that’s the OTHER stuff we’ll leave aside for a while).

“The Big Blue” as I call it.  You never tire of gazing over this 22-mile lake and all that comes from your mouth, if you care or dare to speak, is, “Beautiful.”  Yes, full of water, full of light, full of mountain particles and full of pure beauty.  It’s like the sky has poured into a mammoth canyon of the highlands waiting to be discovered, seducing discoverers. . .like John Muir.

Muir called Lake Tahoe “the queen of lakes” and the “water heaven” where all lakes eventually go.

From the John Muir Exhibit (Sierra Club) website:

-Muir first visited Lake Tahoe in October-November of 1873, calling it the “queen of lakes” and writing his friend Jeanne Carr that he had “sauntered through the piney woods, pausing countless times to absorb the blue glimpses of the lake, all so heavenly clean, so terrestrial yet so openly spiritual.” He wrote further, “The soul of Indian summer is brooding this blue water, and it enters one’s being as nothing else does. Tahoe is surely not one but many. As I curve around its heads and bays and look far out on its level sky fairly tinted and fading in pensive air, I am reminded of all the mountain lakes I ever knew, as if this were a kind of water heaven to which they all had come.” [Source: Letters to a Friend, 1915]
-Muir returned to Tahoe several other times in his life, enjoying its “delightful” beauty.

My mind is still up there in the alpine country breathing the fresh pine air.  Even with the unclean air, noise and nuisance of city living, there’s something refreshing that stays with you when you’re that close, that immersed, in Beauty (what some would call God, the Sacred, or Heaven).

As I am fond of saying, Why wish for, why imagine another world, a “heaven above,” when it’s all right here, right there, if we simply go look and wade in.  We’re all in Heaven, and it’s so much better than anything we’ve ever been told.

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About Chris Highland

Author, teacher, nonprofit manager, photographer, former minister, interfaith chaplain View all posts by Chris Highland

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