A few years back, we had a forest fire here in the Sawtooth Mountains. The first evening, we collectively came out and stood on hillsides to watch in horror and awe as the flames engulfed the woods and the pristine scenery, never dreaming it would overpower the town in the days to come. It seemed incomprehensible.

As the days went on, a multitude of states were called in to assist, tents were set up, meals prepared. For weeks, acres of trees burned up and down the mountainsides, closing in on our historic town. Finally, people were asked to take their important possessions and leave the area. Many of us moved in with friends who lived a safe distance away.

Weeks later, the firefighters gained control over the burning timbers.

That following spring, as the snows melted, everyone was saddened at the thought of the blackened hiking trails that would run through the mountains and along rivers.

But, something happened. The hikers that ventured out were surprised to see bright dots of colorful wildflowers poking out of the charred rubble as if they were stars on a clear mountain night. Many of these plants were never noticed in the thicket before the fire. Now, plants that once were hidden among the tall grasses and low hanging tree boughs were sticking their colorful tops through.

Later in summer, the town was buzzing about the 100-year-old wild hollyhocks coming up through the blackened earth high in the mountains. After climbing two hours, there they were, an acre of three-foot-tall, bright pink flowering stalks weaving in and out of the charred trees. It was breathtaking. That devastating fire helped the seeds pop open.

That is what our lives always bring along. Like Mother Earth, we must always be readjusting and finding the good in even the most saddening of circumstances. And there is good there.

We have been handed a gift and, though it was wrapped in the pain of tremendous loss, we must have the strength to see a life-altering awakening to the possibilities of the soul. It does not come right away, but like the flowers that lay dormant until a tragedy strikes, you have the opportunity to bloom again. Your loss has burnt away all that is unimportant.

Your child came as a messenger showing you that even the most annihilating loss can propel us toward our spiritual  selves, bringing us closer to a connection with the spirit. If you have lost a child, respect that child’s desire to show you the purpose of your lives. 

Our children have given us gifts. When they came into this world, they ignited a spark within us and as they left they set us on fire with their spirits. We must continue to stoke that burning fire. In time, we will feel grateful for that short physical connection and what we have learned through that loss on a soul level will set us on fire with love.

Vicky Bates 2011

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Vicky Bates

Vicky Bates

After 18 years of marriage and career, we decided to adopt two babies. My oldest had many health issues which after 10 years led to a fatal anaphylactic shock. I believe that my spiritual beliefs helped me understand that the tragedies we face challenge us to confront our pain and slowly work through it. That is what I did through helping with hospice and watching the process of transition for the dying and seeing that even in the hardest times the gentle kindness of humor is a necessary tool.

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