The Nature Conservancy
Kellie was inspired by her time with The Nature Conservancy as she wrote her song "Quiet, Quiet" from her newest album, Wild Love. Kellie loves caring for the earth. The times soaking in the quiet beauty of nature have touched her heart in ways nothing else has. She is refreshed and filled by the rich quietness of the great outdoors. The Nature Conservancy works to preserve these precious places that we all call home, that we rely on, that we go to for respite. Check back soon for more details on Kellie's work with The Nature Conservancy and the debut of her song "Quiet, Quiet."
Orchids From Fire
By Kellie Haddock
I just finished eating a bowl of soup, the first thing I’ve eaten in days. Our family was hit with the dreaded stomach bug, and I was the last to go down. When mom goes down it’s not pretty, but from my view on the couch, I got to see our family rise up beautifully around me, caring for me and each other. In the quiet, miserable hours, there was much time for me to think.
I was thinking a lot about the things in life that we dread and work to avoid—like stomach bugs, piles of laundry and forest fires, to name a few. I was pondering whether these held any good purpose. Is there anything here to learn?
Just a few days ago our family took a tour through Disney’s Wilderness Preserve, where thousands of acres of forestland are being restored to a healthy ecosystem. It has become a laboratory yielding best practices that are now being applied successfully in places all around Florida.
As we bumped along in the green swamp buggy, our guide from The Nature Conservancy explained how all the healthy vegetation we saw thriving all around us—purple blossoms as far as the eye could see and yellow flowers polka-dotting the terrain—owed its vibrance to the fire that scorched the same land just a few months earlier.
Our guide was an expert in controlled burns, and I could tell as he spoke that he loved fire. He explained the need for regular fires in order to maintain carbon in the soil. Carbon is an essential component in fertilizer—healthy carbon levels beget healthy soil, and healthy soil begets healthy plant growth. Ironically, fire also produces excellent water retention in the soil. Since fire regenerates healthy plants, the soil is richer and able to absorb more water, resulting in less runoff and more water to feed a healthy and resilient eco-system. A beautiful cycle.
Fire also gives the land a chance to rest. After its forced respite, the soil is bursting with life, much like the flames were bursting with heat and light.
Our guide described the cyclical process. After the fire, everything is black and seemingly lifeless. Then, after about a week, thousands of wild orchids are blooming everywhere. Their bright pops of color exploding against the black ash create a stunning juxtaposition of death and life, darkness and beauty—one begetting the other in a symbiotic dance.
I sat on the edge of my seat listening eagerly, connecting the wisdom of these natural systems to our larger, daily stories.
I have spent my entire life fearing fire, thinking that fire is simply dangerous, bad and something to avoid at all costs. I saw fire as something that only causes death, but in a matter of minutes, our friend helped me understand a deeper and unexpected reality. Fire held purpose and beauty. Fire could lead to life and health and growth.
I began to question other things I’ve feared and instinctively avoided. We fear differences: classes, races, religions, political parties. We fear the unknown. We fear sickness. The list goes on and on ...
But how do we respond to these fears? Typical reactions erect barriers to keep these things away from us. But perhaps these could be the very stimulations we need to lead us into deeper growth, stronger health and fullness of life. Maybe there is something to learn from the very things we often strive to prevent.
Despite how uncomfortable we were, the stomach bug drew our family together, slowing us down and giving us rare time and space to snuggle under blankets on the couch and watch good movies. It helped our family work together in caring for each other. I saw compassion expressed in our kids like I’ve never seen before.
I was also forced to slow myself down and receive the much-needed rest that I otherwise would not have allowed myself to take. The slow down, the snuggles and the teamwork are each beautiful outcomes of health and life begotten from our sickness.
And now as we recover, I feel much like the land recovering from the fire. We are rising up stronger and more unified than before. We are rested and equipped with full hearts to tackle the daily tasks and unexpected challenges before us.
Alas, I wish we could do without the pain and interruption (and lots of extra laundry), but I guess you could say we are seeing the orchids rising out of the ashes right about now in our home. I don’t want another stomach bug for a long while, but I also think I won’t worry about it as much next time.