The Wise, Wandering, Sauntering Scotsman
Editor’s Note: The Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple is now in its 17th printing as we celebrate the book’s 20th anniversary. In the truest spirit of the book and Muir’s own contemplative writings, author Chris Highland was kind enough to pass along some thoughts on reaching this milestone. Enjoy!
We know John Muir is still on the move, sauntering across rugged terrain for body or mind. We know because he still guides the popular imagination to high elevations of thought.
My little book of natural wisdom, Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple, was published 20 years ago this fall (2001). I’ve been delighted to see the book available at Muir’s Birthplace Museum in his hometown of Dunbar, Scotland, and honored to read from the book in Muir Woods and the Muir home in Martinez, California. A young Ethiopian friend was inspired in his bird-watching and photography by Muir (photo). I’m always happy to hear from readers who discover the book bivouacked in a National Park bookstore or local shop.
I’ve been humbled by reviews like this one: “I LOVE this book! Have had my copy for many years, and it is bookmarked, dog-eared, and underlined in various inks. Each time I read the passages, I find something new to contemplate. It is my personal bible. Thank you for compiling and issuing this gem.”
Mike Jones, former publisher at Wilderness Press in Berkeley, was impressed by the little self-published booklet I sent him (photo). He suggested altering the title from Nature’s Temple: Daily Wisdom from John Muir, to the current title emphasizing meditation. As an interfaith chaplain at the time, it sounded just fine to me.
The rest is printed and bound in history! Muir was followed by my Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman books (later I self-published John Burroughs and Margaret Fuller meditations). But none of these has kept pace with the sauntering Scotsman.
Call him a naturalist, botanist, geologist, wildman, or holyman, Muir just keeps moving, inspiring, thinking beyond any boxes of belief. Besides, he only had time to read “Nature’s Book.”
Chris Highland, 2021, “Friendly Freethinker” (www.chighland.com)