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Why John Muir is One Of My Nature Heroes

I’m reading yet another book on John Muir, this one by a fine writer, Kim Heacox, about Muir’s travels to Alaska to observe and explore glaciers.

John Muir imagesI am always moved by accounts of how Muir’s love of wild places was such a driving force in all that he did. I especially appreciate the story about Muir’s meeting of Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was 1871, Emerson was 68, Muir 33. In spite of Emerson’s entourage, who were concerned about the old man’s health, Muir begged Emerson to spend more time with him in Yosemite and camp in a grove of big trees, sleeping on the ground. “You are yourself a Sequoia. Stop and get acquainted with your brethren…It will do you good.” I love this – encouraging the old man to stay and spend time among his brethren, big old Sequoia trees. Emerson’s acolytes prevailed, and Emerson went on his way. Even so, Emerson considered Muir one of the most inspiring people he had ever met. Thanks to good books, I too consider John Muir one of my most inspiring and influential people.


Dave Van Manen –

If Not Me, Then Who?

I took a trail walk this morning, enjoying the cool moist morning air and the woods full of bird song. As I was nearing the end of the trail, I stopped to pick up several pieces of trash when I noticed another piece off the trail a ways. My hands were pretty full, and I did not really feel like scrambling through the brush to get the last piece. In the short mental moment when I was deciding whether or not retrieve it, the thought occurred to me, If I don’t pick up that piece of trash, who will? That was all I needed to send me through the oaks to get it and deposit all of it in the trash container.


This question is a good one for all of us to ask. We all see needs in our communities, and some of us sometimes entertain the thought of actually doing something about one of those needs. The fact that you noticed, and you had the thought of doing something about it, may very well mean that you are indeed the one who is being called to actually spearhead a response to that need. Maybe it is a park that needs cleaning up, or a piece of open space that needs to be protected, or homeless folks that need access to mental health services, or children from poor families in your community that need more to eat during the summer months and weekends when school is not in session. We really don’t need to look all that far, as there are needs of all sizes and all varieties.

Every program, every organization, every service that currently addresses a community need started by someone who noticed that need. That someone must have asked him- or herself the question, If not me, then who? In answering this one simple question, he or she realized that there may very well not be anyone else who was first going to step forward besides them. So, they took that first step and made something happen to address that need. Might you be one of those people who is in the process of asking yourself that question?

Remember, we are the ones we have been waiting for!