Controlled Burning

Photo by Jon Parker

As I was hiking through the forest after night camping on a small mountaintop, I came across the scene in the photo above. This is a big deal. A much bigger deal than I would have thought before learning why the Forest Service does these burns. Many of you may have learned of this initially in the same way that I did, from a brilliant tome called Sanction I, and the metaphor gleaned from within it when the author speaks of controlled burns.

Coming across this scene I was taken back to first reading those early pages of that palatial book. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. It’s unlike any book you’ve ever read, guaranteed. Parts II and III are also out now. I think the three of them put together end up somewhere between 1-1.5 million words total.

Now, the metaphor. Why would this scene hit me? Why would a bunch of blackened trees be important? You see, these controlled burns are a way to control the supply of fuel in the forests. Over time things die and build up on the forest floor. Dry wood ends up scattered everywhere, and some dead trees stay standing for quite some time, providing ample sustenance for any hungry flames that come crawling through the wilderness.

In an effort to prevent major forest fires, controlled burns are started and maintained so that all of that extra food gets eaten up by the relatively small fires, leaving the living trees blackened but otherwise unharmed and ensuring the forest is safer for quite some time into the future.

To the average man this means little, but to the astute it means a great deal.

It speaks of a reality beyond mere surface level understanding. Like all great story and metaphor, to the perceptive, it opens the door to understanding something which could change your life. I could tell you that to reach your potential you must do away with those parts of your life that are holding you back; dragging you down.


I could tell you that you must burn away the chaff; that you need to walk through the fire in order to rid yourself of the vain and useless; that you must allow controlled burning in your life to do away with the fuel that is all of the excess you allow yourself to have for any number of reasons (excuses). You start the fire by committing to a different way than that followed by modernity. You maintain the blaze by never backing down and by refusing to give into the false god of comfort no matter how seductive its call.

Like those trees you will be burned and blackened by this trial, but you will stand powerful in the aftermath, stronger and more vibrant than before. And life will move on, and greenery will return to the forest. If you let the flames die the dead wood will begin building up again.

Looking at that image I can’t help but be reminded of the Fraternity of Excellence – a greenwood of brothers standing tall in the blaze together, striving for the sky all the while.

“Let the fire rage! Burn the forest floor to ash – we’ll still be here!”

What more is there to say? You will either burn of your own will, in a controlled way which will remove your weakness and build your strength – or you’ll burn to nothing when the forest catches fire with all the fuel you left there. In one scenario those around you grow stronger too. In the other everybody goes down in flames.

If you’re a man and you’re ready to start that controlled burn, read THIS.

Until next time,

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