A year after my husband died, I went out West to visit our Portland kids. While I was there, our son suggested we drive up into Washington State to see Mt. St. Helens. It had been four years since that final eruption and we were curious to see what it was like now. What we found was mind boggling.
As far as we could see, there were trees stripped bare of their bark, lying neatly arranged like matchsticks on the sides of the mountains. As we came around a bend, we noticed a big sign and an overlook so we stopped.
The sign told us we were at the site of what had been a large lake that once had a beautiful resort overlooking it. We could see where the lake had been, but there was no lake, and there was no resort. It was hard to fathom the kind of power that could do that.
Farther on, there was a place where we could pull over, get out and walk around. Some of the trunks lying there on their sides came up to our waist. Those trees had been there a very long time. What was just as amazing were the beautiful flowers that had sprung up seemingly everywhere. New life abounded. The message was not lost on me.
Nearly twenty years later, when I was talking with my publisher about the cover for my book, “From Grief to Joy,” I remembered the pictures I took there on that mountain, and that was what we decided to use.
Recently someone was asking about the cover of my book, so I told her the story about the flowers. To my surprise, she said, “Oh yes, I know all about those flowers. They only bloom after a fire.”
What she said literally took my breath away. If she was right, and I’ve since been told she was, that means the potential for new life ~ for something really beautiful ~ was there all along, but it wasn’t triggered until something came along that literally blew away everything that had been there before.
I don’t mind admitting I had tears in my eyes as I thought about how the promise of new life is always here, whether it seems like it or not, and that will be our experience as we find the courage to pick up the pieces of our life, and move on.