Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Healing Power of Fire

I know, I know--a strange title for a post. I guess I've got it on my mind because I'm preparing a Sunday School lesson on Alma 5 tomorrow about spiritual cleanliness (which I do NOT want to make into a spiritual checklist). At any rate, the idea has been on my mind since my trip to Yellowstone last week.
I'm a tourist sucker--usually I don't take pictures of wildlife, but these baby buffalo were so tiny and so cute!

Yellowstone was distinctly different than Glacier: full of tourists who stopped at every bend in the road to take pictures of any wildlife (we saw bald eagles, buffalo, and antelope); schedules of Old Faithful eruptions and t-shirt sales filled the conversation of the people waiting outside the Lodge; and the rugged, harsh landscape marked decisively by the fires of 1988 triggered a lot of reflection.
You could see charred, blackened timber everywhere, blending in with the white alkaline areas of sulfur and steamy geysers. I loved seeing the fresh new growth, and reading about it in the handy National Park Service newsletter made all the difference. Did you know:
  • The fires didn't really stop until September brought rains and snow
  • Lodgepole pine and aspen adapt to fire
  • Following the 1988 fire, aspen reproduction actually increased because the fire stimulated the underground root system and left behind bare minimum soil, which provides good conditions for aspen seedlings
  • Ash is rich in minerals, and stimulated the growth of abundant wild flowers, especially because the mature overhead trees had prevented the sun from reaching the forest floor
  • Plants started growing back almost immediately--new lodgepole pines are everywhere
  • The new vegetation and growth has prevented erosion that was wearing away some of the water tables
  • Elk found more nutritious grass after the fire, and bears were not really affected by the fire
I love that. I learned an interesting lesson this morning from a wonderful man: often times the things that heal us are the things that we are the most afraid of and the things that have actually caused us the most hurt and damage. I'm on the hunt for the tools to figure out how to make it happen. Bring on the flames.

4 comments:

D'Arcy said...

beautiful jenny! I wish I could hear that lesson! Your photos, your connection with nature, your application to the scriptures....all breathtaking friend!

Laurel said...

Okay, a.) I love this and SO miss talking "gospel talk" w/ you

b.) I love this topic and you'll love this quote I have from Parker Palmer (but I have no idea who he is): "Sometimes a forest fire seems like it rages so hot it will destroy everything in its path. But when the fire cools and spring rains come, green seeds of opportunity open and new life sprouts through green stems of promise. Only the Master knows when the fire has been hot enough to begin this process."

I'm with you...bring on the fire!

JJ said...

Dear Jenny, your last couple of posts have just been so beautiful...thank you for sharing!

Lael said...

Isn't it funny how ANYTHING baby is cute ... even buffalo?