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“What you are will show in what you do.” —Thomas A. Edison

A few years ago my now six year old son Jonah became interested in having a special container where he could keep his treasures in a private and secure place. He wanted something with a lock. We happened to have a small, unused lock-box that I offered to him. I strive to say “yes” when I can. I love to see my children manifesting their desires if I sense that it will be beneficial. Jonah came to call this box his “kit.” He keeps it remarkably unhidden on a toy chest in his playroom. I must overt my eyes, though, when he reaches for his hidden key. Adrian—his adoring little brother—may look on, for he is “a kid.” Jonah has utilized various key chains over the years to keep track of his key. My favorite was a multi-colored disco ball that he had picked out for me at an airport gift shop. I was happy to see it go to good use. I believe it has since broken and been discarded, replaced with a little scrap of yarn. For a while, Jonah’s kit was mostly filled with various gifts of the earth—stones and shells and such. In the last few months, he has become increasingly aware of the value of money and he has taken to setting up shops where he might earn a few dollars. His kit is filled with his earnings, plus some bills from a small—and oft forgotten—allowance and gifts from family. My favorite of his shops was his whittling mill that he set up in our living room on a small side table. In mid-summer he discovered that a kitchen, vegetable peeler acted as a fine tool for the shaping of sticks. This work proved to be a good place for his bountiful energy with so much of it going into the smoothing out the rough edges of the plentiful branches in our yard.

The abundance of acorns peppering our lawn this season makes walking around barefooted on these lingering, temperate days rough on the feet. I find myself taking a step, then a hop, a step, then stopping to pull a small acorn away from the arch of my foot. It is said that increased fruit production in nature portends heavier winters. Like squirrels in preparation for snows arrival, we’ve begun collecting these nutty gems once again just as our Acorn Tree Art prepares for shipment to the Maine Audubon for display. I’m taken with the way we arrive at that which is ours to do in this life. Collecting buckets and jars filled with acorns in the fall and saving them for art—I’m certain—is not for everyone. It is what we do, though. On one of our warmer days recently, I found myself engrossed in this process of moving along the steps of our back porch on hands and knees collecting these powerful seeds and their anthropomorphic little hats. I have a special affinity for the deep, chestnutty brown ones. Adrian—my littler boy—likes the still-green ones and tells me so when he comes near me in my work. We sit together closely for a few moments on the steps. I ask him if he knows that he has acorn eyes—such a beautiful mix of chestnut and green. He just smiles a knowing smile.

Soon he moves along to the work he has created for himself of digging in the dirt, of climbing and calling out for me to watch. Looking back down to a sunny spot on the ground filled with handfuls of acorns from which I might choose, a profound sense of calm washes over me, settling all of my inner-clutter into its right place. Faith shows up in this way—unannounced and without warning—a welcomed elixir brimming with healing thoughts and mending songs. There you are collecting acorns in your yard, on the couch—your sleepy child’s head in your lap. In she walks dripping with asylum, each droplet a new miracle to behold.

 

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“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a cool and foggy Autumn Sunday before those glorious, sweaty, summerish days arrived for one last hurrah. Our family had made our way down a dirt path to a quintessential, rocky Maine shoreline in an attempt to shake the crankiness off of our day. One boy biked there, while the other road along in a little, blue push-car that has a few thousand miles on it now. We climbed on slippery boulders over to a part of the terrain that held an enormous fallen tree that hung like a bridge. Jonah—so agile, now, in these precarious environments—leapt ahead onto the tree. I warned him not to go under it—wary of the possibility of it collapsing further. Adrian—up ahead of me—made himself clear to my husband that he could navigate the rocks himself, too. I found a seat on a damp rock and took in the scene before me. I took in the juxtaposition of the bright and mustard-yellow colored seaweed against the ashen rocks. A thin layer of fog made the contrasts that much more striking. I sat there for a long while and I picked up a lone acorn that had fallen in amongst a sea of mussel shells and periwinkles, noticing the way it seemed slightly swollen from its contact with the salt water. I sat taking in my surroundings, rubbing the side of the acorn across my lips noticing its smoothness. I sat noticing a spaciousness coming over me and my chest expanding. I rubbed the acorn back and forth across my lips again for a while. Later, I slipped the acorn into my pocket, carefully taking it home with me.

My kitchen sink is positioned conveniently in front of a window looking out at my driveway where my two boys love to play. It is only recently that I may stand here, while they are there. We have a vast lawn and yet it is this runway like surface where they enjoy best setting up their work stations, their water-chalk, their digging zones in the flower beds nearby. We have had more than a few skinned knees here, yet still they return. I’m at the sink now. I’ve come to wash my hands. I turn the water on and adjust the faucet so that a warm stream is flowing through my palms. With soap, I massage my hands together, noticing the way the tepid water relaxes me, and taking in the boys as they play. I am rubbing my hands soothingly and Adrian begins running—laughing—down the driveway with Jonah following. There is crying between them at times. But I am marveling now as I gaze out at them—there is so much laughing. Sometimes the laughing gets to be so lively while they are eating dinner that I think that they may choke. I feel guilty at times reprimanding their antics. I am taking them in from my kitchen window like so many mothers before me and Adrian’s smile is erupting with joy and Jonah’s is, too. I rinse my hands of the soap and reach for a towel.

I am remembering now. I’m remembering now how it feels to look deeply into Jonah’s sea-blue eyes. I am remembering what it means to meet his eyes with mine, crouching down, even, to really look at him when he speaks. I am remembering how he stands up just a little taller when he notices me giving him my full attention. He says more. He has so much to share. His inner-world is active and filled with thoughts waiting to be heard. I am remembering about Adrian’s chocolatey—sometimes hazel—eyes and how his become just a little more liquid when I stop and really take in his words, connecting my eyes with his. It is almost as if he is touched with emotion by my interest. Adrian has so much to say, too. Sometimes he will shout at Jonah, “I was talking first!” I am remembering both of my boys’ gorgeous and reflective eyes and I am thinking about what it means to be seen. I’m thinking about what it means to be seen when you are a child. I’m thinking of all that it means to be seen.