The calm dawn gave no promise of anything uncommon…The sunrise we did not see at all, for we were beneath the shadow of the fjord cliffs; but in the midst of our studies, while the Indians were getting ready to sail, we were startled by the sudden appearance of a red light burning with a strange, unearthly splendor on the topmost peak of the Fairweather Mountains. Instead of vanishing as suddenly as it had appeared, it spread and spread until the whole range down to the level of the glaciers was filled with the celestial fire. In color it was at first a vivid crimson, with a thick, furred appearance, as fine as the alpenglow, yet indescribably rich…Beneath the frosty shadows of the fjord we stood hushed and awe stricken, gazing at the holy vision; and had we seen the heavens opened and God mad manifest, our attention could not have been more tremendously strained.When the highest peak began to burn, it did not seem to be steeped in sunshine however glorious but rather as if it had been thrust into the body of the sun itself. Then the supernal fire slowly descended…until all the mighty host stood transfigured, hushed and thoughtful as if awaiting the coming of the Lord. The white, rayless light of morning, seen when I was alone amid the peaks of the California Sierra, had always seemed to me the most telling of all the terrestrial manifestations of God. But here the mountains themselves were made divine and declared his glory in terms still more impressive. How long we gazed I never knew. The glorious vision passed away in a gradual, fading change….We turned and sailed away, joining the outgoing icebergs, while “Gloria in excelsis” still seemed to be sounding over all the white landscape, and our burning hearts were ready for any fate, feeling that, whatever the future might have in store, the treasures we had gained this glorious morning would enrich our lives forever.
John Muir, The Spiritual Writings, 102-3, TA 152-4
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