The Fires of Life

Image of giant sequoia by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay

Forest fires are fearsome things.

They can lay waste to hundreds of square miles of mature trees and displace wildlife. If they spread to areas of human habitation, they can raze buildings to the ground and devastate communities.

And yet, fires can play an important role in nature. Trying to suppress them too drastically can have a negative effect on the ecology of the forest.

It can backfire, so to speak.

Take the giant sequoia, native to inland California. This majestic tree can live for thousands of years and grow to a height of almost 300 feet.

You’d think that protecting groves of sequoias from fire would help preserve them. But sometimes when we interfere with the natural cycle of fire and regrowth, we do a forest no favours.

The suppression of fire during the last century by U.S. land management authorities actually hobbled the sequoia’s ability to survive. Its seedlings can only grow into mature trees if competing plants are regularly eliminated by low-level forest fires. (The sequoia’s spongy bark helps protect it against fire.)

Not only that, the cones of the sequoia require the intense heat of a forest fire in order to open up and release their cargo of seeds. If the surrounding ground has just been cleared of competing vegetation by fire and enriched with the resultant nutritious ash, the seeds are given an additional leg up to grow.

So the sequoia can only grow to its impressive grandeur with the help of fire.

Perhaps the same is true of us.

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Same Spider, Different Silks

Dew drops on spider’s web. Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

When you let your mind wander, do you ever find yourself asking odd questions?

Such as, “Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?”

Or, “How do you grow a seedless fruit?”

Or how about this one:

“Why don’t spiders get caught in their own webs?”

I can’t help you with the first two, but I do have an answer for the third.

When spiders build their webs, they draw out silk from their abdomens with six spinnerets. The key is that they’re able to emit different types of silk for different purposes.

The spider first constructs a frame for its web. Then, it lays down spokes of non-sticky silk to use as walkways.

Next, the spider weaves spirals of connecting lines between the spokes using sticky silk. This is for ensnaring small insects that it will later eat. The spider knows to avoid walking on these gluey strands.

A spider can also spin stretchy silk for the centre of its web, or extra-strong silk for the anchor lines.

Whichever type of silk the spider decides to spin, it all has a specific purpose. And even though the types of silk differ, they all come from the same source.

I think we can borrow this analogy to describe how we can receive quite different things from God’s hand.

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Sing While You Fly!

American Goldfinch
Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA-3.0

Birds, like humans, have different quirks.

Some birds like to have everything “just so” before they sing.

The time of day has to be just right, they have to be perched at the top of just the right tree, or they have to be within earshot of a desirable mate.

They would never think of singing if the conditions weren’t to their liking, or if they were busy doing something else at the time, like flying.

Other birds aren’t quite so picky.

Take the American goldfinch, for example.

This handsome little songbird has some unusual traits. One of them is that his flight pattern resembles a roller-coaster instead of a level path.

Another is that the goldfinch is perfectly happy singing while he’s flying.

He doesn’t wait until just the right circumstances fall into place—this yellow fellow sings while he goes about his daily business.

Perhaps we can take a page from the goldfinch’s book?

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