Yosemite: A Holy Temple

Yosemite is a song.

Turning off Highway 99 towards Mariposa you hear the introductory bars that build the song’s suspense.  Rolling golden fields stretch out on both sides of the country road.  The sun is behind you and the cool mountain air is in front.  You get to Mariposa and head towards the Park.  The verse and the chorus are the forests and hills that beat past the car’s windows.  The song builds and builds and all of a sudden you are hit with it:  the Yosemite Valley.

Walls of granite hold you within the lush, green fields.  You don’t feel surrounded;  you feel inspired.  Your eyes are funneled towards the clouds circling the mountain tops.  In the distance you see the iconic top of Half Dome.

As you leave the Valley the colors and the music softens.  You long to hit replay.

John Muir, a Christian and a forefather to the environmental movement, believed Yosemite was a spiritual place.

Before he arrived in Yosemite he 1868 he was a wandering, self-doubting vagabond.  “I was tormented with soul hunger,” Muir wrote. “I was on the world. But was I in it?”

Muir wandered the American landscape eventually walking across the San Joaquin Valley through waist-high wildflowers toward the great Sierras.  “Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called not the Nevada, or the Snowy Range, but the Range of Light… the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.” Muir made a little log cabin just yards from the Yosemite Falls Trail his home.

We have Muir to thank for the Yosemite we see today.  He helped draw up its proposed boundaries and published hundreds of articles that led to its creation.  Because of Muir many 19th-century travelers who visited Yosemite viewed it as the Garden of Eden.

Theodore Roosevelt visited Muir in Yosemite and wrote:

The first night was clear, and we lay down in the darkening aisles of the great Sequoia grove. The majestic trunks, beautiful in color and in symmetry, rose round us like the pillars of a mightier cathedral than ever was conceived even by the fervor of the Middle Ages. Hermit thrushes sang beautifully in the evening, and again, with a burst of wonderful music, at dawn.

Yosemite is beautiful.  Yosemite is a song.  Yosemite is a holy temple.

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .