She began her life (at least the only life she knew) as a tiny acorn – and acorn of a deep chocolate brown, her dainty feet coming to a perfect point, forever donning the taupe criss-cross hat worn by all her brothers and sisters. A hat she thought to be perfectly sized and befitting the loveliest of fairies, in fact, she’s sure she’s caught glimpses of those naughty sprites stealing those hats from acorns unsuspecting.
She and her brothers and sisters lived a tranquil life, nestled together under the rich green cluster of foliage they called their home, among the abodes of other acorns who lived in the world of Oak.
It was a tranquil life for these acorn three, to be sheltered from the rain by the leaves overhead, to spend the days watching the sun rise and set, the birds in flight, the ground animals and children at plan and to feel the tickle of an occasional squirrel who scampered across the limbs of Mother Oak. And this little acorn was very happy, very happy indeed. Even when the summer storms sent their gusty winds, crashing thunder and piercing light, the little acorn knew she was safe and secure in her mother’s arms. She even came to welcome the storms and the taste of rain on her lips and the feel of water on her cheeks. The little acorn was content to stay in this safe place for all of eternity.
Then one day, as the acorn noticed a cop nip in the air, she saw that this tree she had called home was beginning to change. At the very tip of each leaf, a tiny kiss of green had departed to be replaced by the faintest hint of golden-brown. The acorn marveled at this change and wondered what it meant….or was it just a trick of the sunlight or a spec of dust in her eye? But when she awoke the next morning and the nip was nippier, she saw that the kiss of golden-brown had become more like a slap….or was it a hug? She began to inquire of her brother and sister, “What do these changes mean? Why is mother Oak shedding her rich emerald green for this strange shade of golden brown?” But the other acorns said they saw no changes and went about their business of teasing the quirrels that ran overhead, “You can’t get me, na, na, na, na, na, na!” But the little acorn could not be bothered with such foolishness, there were definitely changes afoot!
Eac day, theh little acorn noticed the air got cooler, the light grew shorter and the rich emerald green of their lovely abode soon yielded completely to the rich golden brown, but woon even the goldn hues departed to make way for a flat, lifeless brown. The lieaves soon lost their luster as they became dry, cracked and brittle. The little acorn worried about what this must mean.
The suddenly, the weather turned to bitter cold of pre-winter, accompanied by the torrential rains of November’s chill. The winds blew in violent gusts and the summer rain that was gentle and warm became sharp and cold, stinging her face like splinters of ice. The little acorn shivered in this damp chill – unable to warm herself as the violent windes and bitter rain pelted her little face. She cried to mother Oak to warm and shelter her – but in her dried, brittle state, she could only sigh in resignation. The little acorn tried to grasp at the foliage- the leaves that had protected and sheltered her, but as she reached out, they crumbled and blew away. She cried in despair as she saw the dried brown leaves swept up by the wind.
The little acorn was frightened, cold and feeling very alone. She looked to her brothers and sisters for some words of comfort, but to her horror, she discovered they were gone. “Oh no!” Now what was she going to do? Mother oak had lost her strength. Her brother and sister were gone – but where? Now she was really alone and she began to cry – bitter tears of loneliness and despair.
The rain seemed to last forever as the little acorn clung to what was left of her home. The winds blew and the chill pierced her skin – but she refused to let go. “This is my home, and it has been safe all this time!” she proclaimed, as she kept hanging on. “Maybe the strong green of Mother Oak would return. Maybe this was just a temporary cold.”
But these thoughts gave her no comfort. As the wind blew and the rains fell, the little acorn clung to her branch – hanging on for dear life. She struggled to cling to her little branch as her body was buffeted by the wind. Being blown back and forth, she used all her strength to hang on. Eventually, she began to feel weak. She was cold, wet and achingly alone. The little acorn began to understand that her brothers and sisters would not be returning to their rightful place beside her, and Mother Oak no longer offered her comforting sighs. She tried her best to remain strong, to not give into the aching loss she felt inside. Finally, a terrible wind from the north blew in and she no longer had the strength to continue to cling to her little branch. In a moment of resignation and surrender, the little acorn took a deep breath and let go of her branch, sure she would fall to her death below.
The little acorn fell from her home on Mother Oak. She prepared for her end as she plummeted to the ground. She offered a quick prayer of release and closed her eyes, gently welcoming death. She was jolted out of her silent prayer when SMACK, she hit the ground with a great force. She and heard the skin along her backside as it cracked her open from one end to the other….but she was surprised to discover that the fall had not killed her. Instead, she felt a strange sense of release as her tight shell began to give way.
She barely had a chance to catch her breath when she saw the grey squirrel running toward her. No longer sheltered in the arms of Mother Oak, she now had no protection from the on-coming assault. The squirrel scooped her up in his mouth and to her horror, began to dig a deep hole where he ceremoniously deposited her broken body. She fell into the hole and before she could blink, the squirrel had covered her over with dirt and dead leaves. The little acorn expected herself to be afraid, lying there in the dark, damp, cold hole. Instead, she was surprised to find that she felt a strange sense of safety and comfort. She felt protected and cradled in this unexpected shelter. After the months of clinging and hanging on to her former home, she felt a sense of relief in being able to simply be. She allowed herself to surrender to the comfort of her new home and soon fell fast asleep.
After many months, the acorn awoke from her winter sleep. The ground suddenly felt warmer and she could feel the sensation of rain seeping into the earth. Her cold, damp home had grown warm and wet. Then, the acorn felt a strange sensation rising in the center of her belly. It felt like a fiery churning and tumbling, as if a worm or snake had suddenly awoken inside her body and was trying to find its way out. This sensation felt very uncomfortable. The acorn began to feel restless and impatient as if her body had suddenly grown too small for what it contained inside. She wriggled and jiggled, trying to calm this restless feeling. She felt as if she wanted to rip off her own skin and with that thought, she arched her back and the wound that had happened as a result of her fall began to open. She continued to arch and stretch and the opening became larger and larger until suddenly a tiny sprout erupted from inside her being. She breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the liberation of no longer being contained inside that tiny shell. She yawned and stretched, reaching her way toward what seemed like the source of the warmth and wetness that had broken her winter slumber. As she continued to reach, she soon found herself at a crossroads, would she leave the safety and comfort of the warm, soft earth, or reach out into the light that had suddenly been revealed? What did she have to lose? She survived the fall from Mother Oak, surely the light would not kill her. She exerted one final stretch as she broke through the final layer of dirt and burst into light of the springtime sun. The blinding light took her breath away, but then, turning her face toward the sun, the tiny acorn breathed deep of this new space she would call home.
After the struggle to reach the light, the tiny acorn decided to simply rest in the beauty of her new found home. She followed the sun by day and the moon by night. She drank deeply of the springtime rains that nourished her vulnerable, young body. She continued to reach out her arms as she grew toward the sun. Then one day, she heard the sound of children playing and squirrels scurrying. It sounded as if the sounds were coming from below her. Turning her face from the sun, she looked down, and there below her, several feet below her were the children and squirrels she had heard. For the first time, the tiny acorn realized that she was not an acorn at all….she had grown into a tall and majestic oak. She reflected in wonder at what she had become. Now she was the Mother Oak, with her own beautiful coat of emerald, populated with her thousands of children. With joy she greeted each acorn she now carried in her arms and wondered what would become of them when they too had the courage to let go and discover the truth of who they are.
copyright Lauri Lumby Schmidt 2009