The short story behind my first blog named “News from an Acorn” is simply this; it existed 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 everywhere. Hallelujah!
The full story of “News from an Acorn” takes longer to share, but seems worth the telling:
Over twenty 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 there. Each little nugget had a story and it was always good to listen as Joshua spoke.
Sadly, some people, even children, take the short way home to God. One day Joshua was with us, here, and the next, gone, his earthly life ended all too soon by reckless accident. 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 in 1987 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.
“Nine Eleven” (September 11, 2001) was a tragic event and resulting phrase 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, asking for guidance, 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 I was riding on and many, or so it seemed, bounced off of my helmet with “clunks” and “pings.” I had to steady my bike there for a moment as it rolled over countless little brown nuts. As acorns reigned 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 had the theme for our next retreat. Suddenly I thought of the acorns that Joshua had carried long ago. and now I was hearing them bounce off of my head and thinking, they’re still teaching us something. Within minutes I rounded the corner of Joshua’s cemetery with the meetinghouse just up ahead.
“News from an Acorn.” Thank you, Joshua. Thank you God. We had our theme and a whole lot more.
Kevin Lee (re-edited in 2016)