Life Lessons from the National Parks
by Penny Musco
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” – John Muir, from The Yosemite, 1912 Whether you’re a hiker, a museum explorer, or a reader who travels vicariously, Life Lessons will take you on a four-season tour of some of America’s most glorious places within the National Park Service-and you’ll meet God along the way. In Life Lessons from the National Parks, author Penny Musco: *Brings the NPS sites to life with her first-person experiences; *Shares Scripture and inspirational anecdotes that relate to the parks’ stories; *Provides tips for planning your own visits and links to the sites that are referenced Endorsed by Michael J. Oard, co-author of the “True North National Park Series,” and by Cecil Murphey, author or co-author of more than 130 books, including Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story and 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.
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Romans 1:20 says God’s “invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature” show themselves in what he has created. Our national parks may be our country’s “best idea,” as historian, environmentalist, and author Wallace Stegner said, but they were God’s idea first!
While much has been written about the parks, few works approach them from a Christian perspective. And that’s a shame, considering that John Muir, whom many call the Father of the National Park Service, unequivocally and unapologetically linked the splendor he saw around him with its Designer:
“I am sitting here in a little shanty made of sugar pine shingles this Sabbath evening. I have not been at church a single time since leaving home. Yet this glorious valley [Yosemite] might well be called a church, for every lover of the great Creator who comes within the broad overwhelming influences of the place fails not to worship as he never did before. The glory of the Lord is upon all his works; it is written plainly upon all the fields of every clime, and upon every sky, but here in this place of surpassing glory the Lord has written in capitals.”
(from The Life and Letters of John Muir by William Frederic Badé).
LIFE LESSONS FROM THE NATIONAL PARKS: MEETING GOD IN AMERICA’S MOST GLORIOUS PLACES explores over forty different parks across the U.S., illustrating the many ways God reveals himself. The locations include not only large, familiar places like Yosemite, but also in smaller lesser known locations among the more than four hundred units of the National Park Service, such as battlefields, national monuments and historical sites. All chronicle remarkable lands, events and/or people, but more importantly, they reflect the God who superintends each one. He really does express himself in capital letters.
Penny is a freelance writer and performer with a B.A. in Theatre. Her magazine credits include Family Circle, More and Costco Connection, among others (www.pennymusco.com). Life Lessons from the National Parks, her first book, began life as a blog on her home page, which has content not found in the book.
As the first Artist in Residence at the Park Service’s Homestead National Monument, Penny wrote and performed a one-woman show about the African American Exodusters, former slaves who headed north after Reconstruction ended. She now presents Steal Away: The Story of a Homesteader and an Exoduster for community groups, and at libraries and senior living residences (www.steal-away.com).