Today is Ash Wednesday in the Christian tradition, the first day of Lent, a season of prayer, fasting and solemn contemplation prior to Easter.
For some reason, I’ve always loved Ash Wednesday.
I like getting the ashes put on my forehead, and I find it helpful to remember the truth of our lives, that our life is short and finite. It’s good to remember our bodies don’t live forever.
For me, the season of Lent is about deeply looking at how we are living our lives. Today, I’d like to write about a person who clearly cared about living well.
John Muir is someone who deeply affected America’s soul. He was instrumental in creating the national park system, and the environmental movement in America.
He was also a writer who often published in newspapers and magazines. Many of his books were published after his death from journals that he wrote. I suspect he is one of those people who wrote because it was in his nature to write down his thoughts. It was also natural for him to want to spend as much time as he could outside.
There are many books written about Muir. A book that I picked up at a national park (maybe Yosemite), was John Muir, In His Own Words, compiled and edited by Peter Browning. I love this book of quotations that shows the progression of Muir’s writing over the course of his life.
Muir possessed so many great ideas and had the courage and stamina to create the first national parks to protect wilderness and ancient redwood forests. Muir died in 1914, but his life and words continue to transform us.
On this Ash Wednesday, I will end with another quote of Muir’s:
Few in these hot, dim, frictiony times are quite sane or free; choked with care like clocks full of dust, laboriously doing so much good and making so much money — or so little, — they are no longer good for themselves.
Though our bodies will turn to dust one day, we have the opportunity while we are alive to remember to live with freedom, and be good for ourselves.
Are you taking the time to live your “rich” life?