I am an unabashed fan of the American National Parks Service, not just because of the precious beauty of the parks themselves, but because of the rangers who work there.
I’ve lost count of how many national parks and monuments I’ve seen over more than a decade, but at each and every one of them, without fail, the rangers were just flat out brimming with pride and joy.
They wanted me to see, truly see, not just the visual scenic beauty, but the deeper connections in the ecosystem, and the geological history that made the place what it is.
Some shared personal stories about how and why they became rangers.
Some quoted John Muir and Thoreau extensively.
Some spoke of the simple grandeur and solitude of living miles from civilization for months.
All of them spoke of the delicate preciousness of their park, looking over it with loving watchfulness.
All of them were humble, emphasizing how much they don’t understand about nature, and how little they do.
Surely they have challenges and frustrations in their line of work. It’s just that I’ve never seen it as a visitor.
There is so much ink spilt writing about how to be happy at work. But what I see in them makes the word “happy” seem flat. It must be what one feels when one is tasked with looking after something precious and lovely, yet delicate and needing protection.