For me, driving through countryside shortly after a devastating fire was a sad experience.
Everything was black.
The trees left standing were stunted and bare.
The acrid stench of smoke clung to my throat.
It was easy to imagine there could be no future for this territory, that its end had come.
But so very often this is not the case, because after the rain has come, and after nature has worked its incredible wonders, small shoots of green appear.
Then slowly, steadily, gradually, the environment returns to normal.
Sometimes it does even better than this – the effects of the fire may enrich the soil, resulting in a greener and more pleasant land one day not so far down the road.
Someone comparing before and after pictures might be led to declare the area resilient, and indeed this is exactly what it has demonstrated.
But note: the fire still happened.
If we’d been there when it was burning, we’d have seen only destruction.
Resilience didn’t mean the vegetation was fire-proof.
It didn’t somehow repel the flames.
No, the resilience is what came later.
It’s the way in which the environment deals with change, accepting it, kind of shrugging its shoulders and saying ‘well that was a mess – better get on with fixing things now though’.
I think we can learn from this.
Resilience and being able to bounce back from adversity are tremendous qualities, but usually there’s no way to prevent the bad stuff happening at the time: the storm must simply be weathered.
However it’s what comes later that counts, and an acceptance that things are as they are can go a very long way to giving you the strength to believe that they’ll get better again.
Surprisingly, after a forest fire there’s nearly always still a forest.