The story of News from an Acorn is simply this; it exists as a vehicle for me to share the wonder, power and awesome burden of living life in the shelter of God’s grace. News from an Acorn is about words, photography, my joy of knowing, hearing and working with young people, and not-so-young people in many settings near and far.
The full story of “News from an Acorn” takes longer to share, but seems worth the telling:
Over thirty years ago I met a little boy whose name was Joshua. Joshua liked to collect things and carry them everywhere in his deep pants pockets. There were sticks, stones, pieces of paper, whirligigs, little plastic men, and acorns. In Sunday school, with the lesson out of the way, we’d sit while Josh pulled out, piece by piece, all the treasures he kept inside his pockets. Each little nugget came with a story and it was always good to listen as Joshua spoke.
Sadly, some people, even young children, take the short way home to God. One day Joshua was with us, here, living, breathing and becoming, and the next day, gone, his earthly life ended all too soon by reckless driver in a pickup truck. His spirit hovered, heavy and beautiful, before rising up and onward, first as a balm and Light to those who mourned, and then freed, to wander where it may. His little body was laid to rest some thirty years ago nearby a Quaker Meetinghouse in Westport Massachusetts.
For weeks following Joshua’s leaving I carried one, sometimes more, little acorns in my pocket. Something about their smoothness, their certainty of purpose brought me both comfort and energy. Once or twice I visited Joshua’s grave and left him pocket stones, a stick I carried, and yes, one or two acorns just because.
Many years later “Nine Eleven” (September, 2001) happened, which was a tragic national event that changed our country and our lives forever. It also ended the lives of almost 3000 innocent people. Having canceled our scheduled retreat for that horrible month, I soon found myself planning out next gathering some weeks later, thinking about what to say and how best to comfort the many children who would gather under our care in heart and spirit as our nation mourned and fretted what would happen next.
I was riding my bike, headed to meeting for worship, actually, and not far from the meetinghouse. As I rode I was wondering and praying and, asking for guidance, just how best to wrap all that had happened in a way that was both honest and measured into a theme for our upcoming retreat of young Quakers. As the wind blew, a torrent of acorns hit the road that I was riding on with many bouncing off of my helmet with “clunks” and “pings.” I had to steady my bike for a moment as it rolled over countless little brown nuts. As acorns rained down on my helmeted head I thought, ah, “News from an Acorn!” In a flash I knew that something was coming, an idea, an approach, a way of truth-telling, and at that moment I also had the theme for our next retreat. Suddenly I thought of the acorns that Joshua had carried long ago. And as acorns were bouncing off of my head I was thinking, these little brown nuts are still teaching us something! Within minutes I rounded the corner of Joshua’s cemetery with the meetinghouse just up ahead.
“News from an Acorn” would not only be our theme and way forward at our next retreat, it would also become the name and home of my personal blog.
Thank you, Joshua. And thank you God and your acorns, for leading the way.
text and photos by K. Lee