Posted by: floridanature | December 24, 2008

A Wish For Joy

There’s so much to be said at this time of the year about gifting, about honoring the sense of joy and peace. About being careful not to be obsessive-compulsive about buying stuff we don’t need, just because we are endlessly pressured to do so—because we somehow are tricked into believing material things will transcend love and goodwill.

But, I rant when all I intended was to reveal a more heartfelt wish. If you are reading this, I can’t give you a material gift. But, in the spirit of all that I have received as a child—and all I have tried to give as an adult—I can send along a deeply authentic prayer. It doesn’t come out of Hallmark or from a glib TV commercial. Instead, it comes from that old eco-iconoclast Ed Abbey, a Western writer we can surely use more of in life, in the Southeast, in the flatwoods and hammocks, the marshes and springs of Florida. Anywhere, for that matter.


The words are from his “Prayer to the Traveler”. And I don’t think Ed will mind if I use them today to send out my wish for us all. Abbey’s respect for realizing the essence of the natural world through the adventure of the soul is as pure a wish as there ever was.

Don’t let Ed’s imagery of Western geology startle you. For those of us more intimate with the biological landscape of Florida, all we have to do is remember the nuanced mystery of our springs and rivers,  flatwoods and scrub. Beneath it all is still the sacred story, pure and clean, ready to help remind us of the everlasting joy of nature and of personal discovery:

“MAY YOUR TRAILS be lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds, May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you— beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.

Walking with grandsons Ray & Will

Walking with grandsons Ray & Will



  1. Ed Abbey would be proud.

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