Solace after grief in Yosemite.
After the early death of his wife, Liebenow (And Everyone Shall Praise: Resources for Multicultural Worship, 2000, etc.) traced a path similar to naturalist and activist John Muir, who focused much of his work on the Sierra Nevada region and who considered nature not as an adversary but as a seeker with profound respect for its mysteries. Though Liebenow initially poeticized the scenery, remarking on “astounding scenes of transcendent beauty” and the “awe and majesty” the setting inspired, he soon acknowledged the dangers and challenges, from extreme weather to predatory wildlife. Embarking on forays from a base camp populated by climbers, Liebenow discovered a community know for its daring, but also for the frequently shared spirituality found amid harsh conditions. He intersperses sumptuous observations with reflections on death and man’s inner wilderness. There are few startling revelations—e.g., “Death does not interrupt life, life interrupts death”—but the author mostly renews familiar ideas with personal insights. References to Native Americans and figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Ansel Adams and others lend historical depth to the work. Descriptions of minute, painterly details hammer home Liebenow’s wonderment, but the grandeur of the locale bears such repetition.
An elegant portrayal of retreat, renewal and return to life with an increased respect for one of the nation’s most revered natural sites.