It’s an odd menagerie that grows as sentimental items are added. They are daily reminders of precious moments.
The rose from a friend’s funeral. The popcorn seed from my pastor, who gave it to me during a sermon before he died.
Our lives are filled with tiny treasures that transport us to another time and place — moments that have helped define who we are and what we hope to become.
I recently had dinner with a dear friend, and she told me a story that I’d like to share. I will never look at acorns in quite the same way — and I’m guessing neither will you.
Kim was visiting her father’s grave in western Pennsylvania. Kneeling by his tombstone, tears streaming down her face, heart heavy with inconsolable grief. She told him how much she missed him and how much she loved him and how hard life was without him.
If only she could hug him one more time.
Just one more time.
To feel his strong arms, see his loving smile and that magic sparkle in his green eyes.
She laid down the bouquet of roses she always brings him and wiped a spot from his name on the tombstone.
That’s when it happened.
It sounded like a knock. Kim looked around, but no one was there. So she continued talking to her dad, sharing her private thoughts and feelings.
Then came another knock.
She looked around the cemetery for someone walking toward her but, again, no one.
“Then I saw the acorn,” Kim said. “A squirrel, busy with his early autumn duties, was dropping acorns right beside me on the grass. It made me laugh out loud. A squirrel hunting acorns. A reminder that life goes on. I wiped away my tears and picked one up to put in my car. . . .”
The next day, Kim walked into a gift store and saw little silver acorns for sale. She picked one up. A tag on it said that acorns represent a long and happy life. That’s when she knew that her dad was still with her and that she would be just fine.
The day after Kim told me this story, I went for a run. Instead of going my usual route, I went a different way. I came upon a huge oak tree. I smiled, stopped and picked up an acorn. And I knew just what to do with it.
When the pail filled with life’s troubled waters gets too heavy to carry and I feel like I’m going to drop it, my eyes drift to my menagerie and I am steadied.
I’m reminded of Pastor Danny — who showed me the awesome power of the Holy Spirit by using a seed of corn.
And of Dee and so many other loved ones who are no longer here who taught me that, although a rose will die, its beauty lives on in those touched by its everlasting grace.
And of my co-worker Sue who, through seashells and starfish, reminds me every day that life is richer when it’s sweetened with laughter.
And, as the acorn joins my little computer club, it evokes memories of a special dinner with a special friend who shared a special story that will live on long after we’re gone. A story about hope and love and the beauty of this thing we call life.
First published in York Daily Record/Sunday News Sept. 23, 2007