Wildfire is an agent of destruction. It makes no distinction of good or bad, healthy or sick, sacred or forgotten. It can burn for months, consuming tens of thousands of acres of forests and meadows, leaving only charred remains. That is to say, nature has a way of being unforgiving at times. As of a few weeks ago NASA reported dozens of wildfires in the western United States that have left large swatches of land desolate.
Or have they? Wildfires quite literally bring death to a forest, but they also make way for new growth which would otherwise be unobtainable. This growth is not only new and exciting, it is essential. This death breeds life.
"Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Matthew 16:24-26.
Jesus is asking his disciples to start a wildfire. He's asking them to choose death. He's asking them to start what only he can finish: the rebirth of what is dead and lost.
Death is pervasive and it takes many forms. It's imminent and yet unexpected, natural and yet lamented. But in death there is hope; for in death, and only in death, there is an opportunity for new life.
That is the beauty in death.
- Danny Santoro