Some species of trees hold a specific type of seed in their canopy that is only released during a natural disaster, most often a fire. The cones remain glued shut with a strong resin until the temperature is hot enough to melt the resin and release the seeds, which then drift with the help of wind and gravity to a burnt but cool bed of soil. The seeds exist entirely to bring new life to a recently devastated area. The process is called serotiny.
Because of the wildfire’s destruction, there’s minimal competition for light and warmth. These conditions in combination with the short-term increase of nutrients in the ash create a supportive environment for new life. Overtime, the serotinous seeds grow into new pines and contribute to a new forest.
Wildfires in general are an important part of maintaining diverse and healthy ecosystems. When fires burn at appropriate intervals, they consume leftover, dead leaves and dead wood, which can trigger a rebirth of new forests.
The short-term impacts of a wildfire are destruction and loss. Its long-term impacts are growth and vitality. Fires are essential for continued life and a healthy forest.
When we endure our own wildfires in life–when everything seems to go wrong or we are at a complete loss–it feels like we will never find our way to joy again. It’s nearly impossible to look out over the destruction and see that there is growth on the other side.
But nature is wise and she knows what we can’t always understand. There is purpose in everything she does, and single events are always part of a greater whole. When we isolate an incident from the cycle of life, we easily overlook the significance of it all.
Within you are seeds that are intentionally designed to release when a wildfire passes through. The cones burst open and the seeds are spread across a fertile ground of ash that covers the surface of your life. Amongst destruction and loss are seeds that feel sunlight for the first time, are soaking up the ash’s nutrients, and are just beginning their new life.