Originally published March 2007 in the Dickinson County News

“Don’t confuse the specter of your origin with your present worth.” – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

We all get burned. Burned by things we didn’t expect. By inevitable tragedy. By people who don’t know any better. By people who just need to do better for themselves. Sometimes – even by ourselves.

The other day, I read about fire-origin trees. These trees, you see, are a variety of the coniferous tree. When the cones fall off the trees, the seeds remained sealed inside the cones until a firestorm.

Protected by the cone, these seeds can be dormant for years – sometimes even decades. Then, during a fire, the cone is burnt away, thus planting the seed for rebirth and regrowth.

It was enlightening for me to read about these fire-origin trees – trees whose seeds are only planted after a fiery tragedy.

Sure, there are times when we see fire as a lifelight. We like it when it’s under control – when we go camping, light a fireplace or burn our prairie grasses. But when it’s out of control, fire is almost always seen as tragic, life threatening, dangerous.

Nature has a way of reminding us that there’s a bigger plan.

So many of us are survivors of tragedy. Firestorms – both real and symbolic – have taken things we depend on, time we needed, people we love.

We have been burned – burned bad. But not only are we survivors, but being burned can also help us find rebirth and renewal. It can plant seeds.

The idea of fire-origin gives me new hope for survival. No longer are we simply dealing with the tragedy that has attacked us, but there is the potential for beautiful regrowth.

Being burned can help us grow parts of ourselves that didn’t exist before. It can reawaken us to things we had lost sight of. It can plant seeds for beautiful tall friendships and vast flowering emotions.

When we are burned, let us regrow. Let us not only survive, but let us be renewed.