Slender, red-gold grass caressing the blackened trunk of a longleaf pine tells the story. This scrap of “prairie under the pines” conserved by my retired botanist friend was recently treated with “prescribed fire,” meaning the fire was set on purpose.
And the purpose was accomplished. Had it not been, this native grass that contributes much to the lives of many creatures–skipper butterflies, small mammals, birds–would have long since been choked out by brambles, shrubs and vines.
Creation once took care of this problem with lightening strikes that caused forest and prairie fires. Well-intentioned but less wise techno-humans set out to prevent and contain fire, resulting in forests and prairies chocked with tinder that produces fires–usually set by human carelessness–that burn hotter and faster and devastate rather than clean up the landscape.
Fire is a two-edged sword. It can refine or it can destroy. Let the sacred wisdom of creation be our guide.