On a recent hike I encountered something which struck me as so captivatingly beautiful that I have not been able to get it out of my mind. As I looked across the landscape before me there were trees as far as the eye could see; like twisted, blackened hands reaching towards the heavens. These trees were burned in recent years as a fire came through the area. Alone, they would be an amazing sight. However, with the green undergrowth encompassing the base of each stand of trees, the contrast of blackened branches jutting up among lush, emerald brush - it was breathtakingly beautiful.
Like these trees, we all must endure some kind of fire. It could be physical, emotional, spiritual or any number of other challenges, but through the fire we go. And in the end, what matters is how we handle things once we've been burned. Some will give up immediately and crumble into a pile of ashes, hopelessly waiting for the winds of change to blow their charred remains where they may. Others will stand firm despite the damage, constantly reaching for what they've been working towards with an eye fixed firmly upon their goal.
But ultimately, if we allow ourselves to be surrounded and sustained by splendor as well as true friends who embrace the good times with us and offer support when we've been through the fire, life always appears to be much more beautiful.