You’ve read about the wildfires in Kansas and Oklahoma which left scorches upon the earth so vast they are visible from space. Last night, the fires drew closer to home and smoke filled the Hobbit House. My eyes filled with smoke then tears. I was one of the lucky ones.
One cycle around the sun is more than enough to learn the seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall. On the plains, people have long burned the grazing and growing ground to remove unwanted plants and to amend the soils and encourage growth.
Cattle get fatter faster off of the new nibbling grasses following a fire.
Weeds and scrub that would otherwise choke out the good growth, are burned away before the soil is tilled again.
This beneficial burning mimics the effects of lightning and spark.
Sometimes, it gets out-of-hand when the wind blows unexpectedly fierce. Despite the constant of wind on the prairie, we can still be surprised by it. A prescribed burn becomes a wildfire and folks chase it with water or try to run ahead of it with “fire lines” which pre-scorch the ground and control/limit fuel in the path of the flame.
It is a terrifying, beautiful, beneficial, devastating, and untamed tool of growth and renewal on the prairie.
Fire is among the prairie seasons: growth, rest (winter), death (burn), rebirth.
And so it is with the scorching deaths we encounter in our living.
One cycle around the sun and we learn of growth, rest, death, and rebirth among our people. Unlike farmers, ranchers, and rural townspeople’s ground and property, these fires scorch within. Relational devastation leaves less obvious scorch trails. Yet we all know the pain is real.
The benefits of the wild untamable flame – the scorching – is so often realized in our days as we learn humility, become more agile and forgiving; and return to the work of plowing, planting, and tending the land of our living.
When all is lost, perhaps it isn’t.
Disappointment can breed determination and community as much as it can create loss.
Clearing the brush and scrub in our own hearts and experience creates space for the better more nourishing growth and habits which lead to lives lived well.
We are left with little and must begin again.
We all know this story of loss and renewal.
Let us not grow hard nor despair in the wake of the flame.
Let us be brave, exercise our derring do, and move forward to heal the land and the place where our heart – our nation’s heart – sees only a scar.
Travel on good people.
A little music for your journey, Carbon Leaf’s Love Loss Hope Repeat.