Whether it arose from his “deep-seated paganism” or his long, sauntering journey out of traditional Christian beliefs, John Muir came to be fully converted to just one High God that makes all the other gods fade. In a journal entry he wrote:
“The pines spiring around me higher, higher to the star-flowered sky, are plainly full of God. God in them. They in God. . . . Oh, the infinite abundance and universality of Beauty. Beauty is God. What shall we say of God, that we may not say of Beauty!” (quoted in Linnie Marsh Wolfe, Son of the Wilderness, 1945)
What about the ultimate non-beautiful: Death?
“One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature. . .no particle is wasted. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe. . . . More and more, in a place like this, we feel ourselves part of wild Nature, kin to everything.” (My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911)
This is the down-to-earth, secular and sane “Gospel” we need no theologians or preachers to thunder about. This is the Veda, the Gita, the Torah, the Dhamma, the Tao, the Qur’an, all rolled into one and left to disintegrate in the Great Ultimate, Last and Living Scripture.
Without even trying, John Muir (who was neither saint nor preacher) proclaimed the “Bible” he had absorbed as a child had now, like him, absorbed into something far, far greater. He had discovered something perhaps Darwin himself never comprehended in the wilderness: the dissolving of all gods and scriptures and faiths into Nature itself. From his pulpit in the pines, this son of the wilderness reminds us we are each and all, in some wonderful way, kin.