Hope psychological care So here’s the backstory behind the website photo of post-fire recovery on St. Mary’s Falls Trail in Glacier National Park. In June 2019, I visited Glacier, and on the way out of the park I wanted to squeeze in one more hike. I had not given this trail much attention, as it was listed as being an area in recovery from the Reynold’s Creek Fire of 2015. When there are so many beautiful trails to choose from, a burned area without shade did not make my “Must Do” List. However, this trail was in the right place and the right length.

On this last hike of the trip, I was immediately struck by the shades of vivid green and colorful, uniquely shaped and textured wildflowers contrasting with the charred remains of trees. Without tree leaves, I could see St. Mary’s Lake, the mountains, and even mountainside waterfalls across the lake, miles away. Some of the charred wood appeared to have metallic designs etched in it by fire. Four years post-fire, this trail spoke “Hope” of growth, healing, and recovery to me.

If forest fire recovery is defined by trees reaching maturity, then forests need up 75 years to fully recover depending on the types of trees in that area. I reflected on what a gradual process this is and how people in recovery from their “wildfires” often find healing tedious. In the forest, if I split my vision vertically so I only saw the treetops, the forest was dead. However, if I looked at the floor of the forest, it was teeming with life. I wondered about how to help my clients attend to signs of growth and healing, however small, versus just focusing on scorched remnants of the past.

Zooming in on the scorched places is necessary at times. However, remember to zoom out to see that each step of growth and healing are significant. In a section of forest that was decimated 4 years ago, every plant seems a miracle. Don’t compare your life to the life of someone whose forest has never burned or who has experienced a trauma, different from yours. Look at what has sprouted up out of disaster, tragedy, pain. Each sprout is to be celebrated, a miracle.