Chaplain’s Corner: LXIIII

“After Life’s Crisis-Life Will Bloom Again”

On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens blew its top. In less than 15 minutes one of America’s most beautiful landscapes was dramatically reconfigured. A lateral blast of molten rock, ash, and debris devastated 151,000 acres of forest and recreational areas in southern Washington.

Spirit Lake simply disappeared. Local streams were choked with sediment. Between one and 20 inches of tephra-ash, pumice, and pulverized rock-transformed the blast zone into a deathly quiet panorama in which everything was gray.

Scientists now had a unique study opportunity. How long would it take for the land to be green again-to be fundamentally healed? Would it be decades? Or a century.

That summer they were stunned to see growth poking through the ash. It was fungus, a plant-like organism whose spores are on any given day, widely distributed on the ground. But those spores never open and thus never germinate-unless they are exposed to searing heat. Like that of a forest fire. Or a volcanic eruption.

The same thing is true for the seed cones of certain species of large trees, including the sequoia. Nearly 11 million acres of forest in western states have already been incinerated in 2021, and we’re not yet at mid-summer. But every one of those fires holds the promise of new beginnings.

In the vicinity of Mt. St. Helens, fire fungus became the first deposit of new life. It became the islands of safety for small insects and secure platforms to protect other seeds. This fire-empowered growth was the beginning of the healing of the land. Within a few years the area around the volcano was once again vibrant with green vegetation and animal life, and now after more than four decades, restoration continues at a rapid pace.

Amid the book of Proverb’s many nuggets of wisdom-practical advice about marriage, friendship, speech and personal integrity-we occasionally stumble upon a bright shining word of hope concerning suffering. One of those is Proverbs 10:25: “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.”

In other words when the disaster is over, life isn’t over.
After the divorce
After the surgery
After the judge’s final ruling
After the bankruptcy
After the public humiliation.

It may feel as if everything you have ever known and loved has been burned away. But God is faithful.

And God uses heat.

Where life appears to be gone, new life is already finding a foothold.

And by God’s grace, no matter how severe the blast, your life will bloom again.

Ron Naylor, Chaplain