Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why Mountains Make Us Sing

Mountains are a home you swear you’ll never leave—even as you pull up stakes—then swear you must get back to.
    Name it Spirit of Place or Genius Loci, as the Romans called it, the reality behind the call of the mountains lives in your heart and soul. It haunts your dreams and sweetens your memories. 
    For some the mountain is the source of holy visions; the Spirit or Genius may be taken literally. The famous Oglala Lakota holy man known as Black Elk recalled a childhood vision: “Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all [Harney Peak], and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.” Neihardt, John G. Black Elk Speaks. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. Pocket Books, 1932, 1959, 1972.

    John Muir, the Scots-American and premier naturalist taught: “Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail.” Muir, John. Our National Parks. Boston, New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1901. As found on Sierra Club’s “Quotations from John Muir,” selected by Harold Wood. 

And this is why the mountains make us sing.

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