John Muir taught me that the lessons of pure nature are best learned from the edge of a cliff. In his constant goal to learn from the presentation of God in the Yosemite valley, he is perpetually drawn to the heightened cliffs, waterfalls, summits – further from the path, from sanity. Step by step, he approaches the drop. His human tendency tightens his heart and beckons his return to safety. He reaches a point of fear, and takes another step further. Fear, and then another step.
A step further, and all that was learned will be sacrificed to the force of the Teacher. He stops with complete faith in the stone beneath his feet.
Stories of Muir’s riding avalanches and braving mountaintop storms have taught me that he might not serve as the best role model. Yet I venture slightly off the path – atop wind-shaped stone, in the air of a darkening dusk. At the edge of our humanity, God shows us where we belong in His Creation.