Book Review – John Muir: My Life With Nature With Beauty Before Me by Joseph Cornell
“Beauty and science have led me to many wild places and countries. Many times I could have become money-rich, yet time-poor. But I have chosen Wild Beauty” John Muir.
This unique “autobiography” of John Muir, which is told in his own words, is brimming with Muir’s soaring spirit and unique adventures. The text was compiled and edited by naturalist Joseph (Bharat) Cornell, author of Sharing Nature with Children, and well known for his ability to help others experience the joyous quality of nature. The result is a book filled with Muir’s warmth, goodness, enthusiasm, love of all creatures, and remarkable courage and will power —the portrait of a true hero.
While in the wilderness, John Muir constantly worshipped God’s presence in creation. Muir often felt his spirit soar through the canyons and peaks of the Sierras. At these times, he experienced to the very depth of his being the truth that “the contents of the human soul contains the whole world.” Reflecting on the mountains Muir writes:
“O these vast, calm, measureless mountain days …Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.”
Born in 1838, Muir is remembered as the father of America’s national parks and the most influential conservationist of modern times. It is said that no one brought nature to life like John Muir. When Muir spoke of his encounters with wild animals, trees, and mountain storms, his listeners said it felt as if they were there, experiencing the adventure with him. After reading Muir’s report on America’s forests, thrilled readers said that Muir was the only one who could make a federal report sing like poetry.
Cornell chose the most captivating stories in Muir’s life and used Muir’s own words, somewhat adapted for younger readers, to tell Muir’s story. Although targeted at young adults, a book so filled with humor, adventure, and inspiration lights the way for young and old alike. Muir writes:
I have tried to tell not what I have done but what Nature has done—a much more important story—in the hopes that you’ll go to Nature yourself and learn her secret ways. I also wanted to make the mountains glad. For nature was made not just for us, but for itself and its own happiness, and is the very smile of God.
The book concludes with an activity section that encourages young people to look more closely at Muir’s life and find its relevance to their own.
With Beauty Before Me
Also coming out this summer is a second book by Joseph Cornell, With Beauty Before Me, a pocketbook of inspirational quotations and activities to take with you on your nature walks.
From the book:
Breathe in the fresh air surrounding you. Exhale and observe the flow of air around you. Follow it as it passes through nearby trees and over wide-open fields. Continue to follow the wind as it carries the distant clouds across the far blue sky. Close your eyes and listen. Can you hear sounds from every direction?…Feel that everything you see and hear is a part of you.”
The author is donating 100% of the proceeds from sales of these two books toward the purchase of a wide variety of indigenous trees for planting at Ananda Village. To order, please make your check to “Ananda Forest Fund” and mail to the Ananda Sangha Office. The cost, including shipping and tax, is $12.00 for John Muir, My Life with Nature and $9.00 for Beauty Before Me.
Joseph (Bharat) Cornell is one of the world’s leading nature educators. H serves as an Ananda Lightbearer and resides at Ananda Village.
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