Sunday morning, he awoke to a hazy smoke-filled sky that clouded his memory of yesterday’s endless sea of blue

Deep in the canyon, a lightning strike had been the culprit, setting off flames of green that melted into dark spires of charcoal, wiping away all that had been birthed from seedlings long ago

Now in his middle years, he found himself engulfed in his own fire of transition, a heated battle within calling him to release the dreams of his youth and embrace the wisdom of his trials

Standing at the edge of the destruction, he watched vanishing pages of the forest smolder away their own lost dreams, drawing him closer into their realm of resurrection

He responded to their eerie invitation, pressing on in a sacred manner, following no clear path, only listening to their cries, “Carry on, carry on, there is life beyond loss”

Step by step, he made his way toward the outer edge of the ruins, witnessing wafts of smoke evaporate into the atmosphere, seed to ash to seed, hope dissolving into new hope

He remembered how they too had once stood proud and tall, and now they lay defeated upon the earth, charred remnants of their past

As he carried their message with him, he felt a transformation within take shape, sparked by the wisdom of the trees, he was forever branded as keeper of the flame