As most people know these trees are hundreds of years old, hundreds of feet tall and simply majestic in both their size and beauty. But I learned something during that experience that I never knew. Sequoias need fire.
The experts say that fire does seven important things and while I don't have the time nor expertise to provide the detail regarding each one here they are: Fire in the forest (1) prepares a seedbed; (2) cycles nutrients; (3) sets back succession in certain relatively small areas; (4) provides conditions which favor wildlife; (5) provides a mosaic of age classes and vegetation types; (6) reduces numbers of trees susceptible to attack by insects and disease; and (7) reduces fire hazards.
In other words fire isn't all bad.
And in the same way as we climb our personal mountains and face our individual or family challenges we need to remember that the fires that flame up on our journey can also strengthen us just like the trees. Whether they do or not is up to us however and the attitude that we keep in spite of the struggle.
Sometimes we let depression, anxiety and panic steal the benefits we might receive when life doesn't work as we'd hope and when the heat is on. Often we let unhelpful people dominate and control us when we need to be leaning into the challenges and moving forward anyway.
What else might fire look like? Longer rehabilitation or medication than we planned. Having to move when we were hoping to remain in our comfortable location. Seeing a special friend leave or be unavailable anymore. Experiencing a recurrence of a chronic condition or symptom. Facing another big loss while you're still hurting.
My hunch is that you can add your own fire stories to the list.
The truth is the same and one we need to embrace. Fire isn't always harmful. It has the potential to make us stronger.
As one country song recently said, "God done gave us mountains so we could learn how to climb." God also allows fire to refine, strengthen and empower us to go on even better than we were before.
And yet so many of us want a totally comfortable life, one free from pain and suffering. Don't settle for that. No, we don't need to go out looking for challenges, struggles and hurt but we will handle it far better if we both expect it and embrace it. Chances are we will be stronger once the flames subside.