It all started with the writing of “The Lesson of the Oak Tree,” a tribute to one tree in one yard in my past. When the oak and I first met, I was a young mother and it was barely bigger than a sapling. I always considered it just another tree in a yard, until one day a few weeks ago, when I returned to my former home as part of a television documentary on domestic violence. It was where all the abuse took place. Since that day, my mind has been reflective and my spirit deeply moved. Thirty-eight years after our first encounter, with more wisdom and appreciation for life, I came to a powerful realization. Both of us have grown older and a good bit larger. Its bark and my skin have each become weathered. Most importantly, we have extended our reach, able to affect more and more lives. The tree now provides much more shade. I progressed from a victim of domestic violence to a survivor, and now an advocate working to help those trapped in the pit of despair where I once resided.
We are now officially in the fall season. Here in central Florida, oak trees are dropping acorns by the score. While traversing across the parking lot on my way into the office, it sometimes seems as if it is raining acorns. There is the sudden “ping” when one hits a car, and quite often leaves a dent behind as if to make a statement of what it could become. Just trying to pull into my parking spot results in a bit of a steering challenge, not to mention the feel and sound of enormous crunching as the wheels drive over all the fallen acorns.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of acorns scattered across the asphalt pavement. One day, while carefully avoiding the loss of footing as I walked to the building, my focus suddenly shifted. Instead of seeing an obstacle course or a sizeable nuisance with all the acorns dropped to the ground by the stately oaks surrounding our building, I saw something else. It was as though my eyes had been opened to recognize that each and every one of those acorns had within its ability to become another mighty oak. Across the lot were hundreds, if not thousands of potentials. Most were a dark brown, but some were still green. A vast number had been turned to dust by the vehicles driving through the lot. How many opportunities had been lost, never to be given the chance to set down roots and grow into a part of the shady canopy hovering overhead?
The grand oaks standing about me were each and every one once a tiny acorn. They had to fight to stay on their mother tree, clinging to the branch for dear life, until the day came they, too, fell to the ground. Maybe they were blown by a forceful wind or a rush of water into some soil, instead of pavement, where they would be planted and begin to form into all they were designed and created to become. They stood their ground. They weathered torrential rains and hammering winds, hungry squirrels and even homeless people sleeping in the surrounding bushes. But they made it. As the point of the lesson of the acorn began to penetrate my mind and spirit, I got it!
That oak tree outside my old home? It is so much more than just another tree in just another yard. It withstood at least 5-6 hurricanes, a rope swing tugging on its branches during its formative years, saws hacking off limb after limb and a houseful of bitterness, anger and abuse standing just within its reach. But there it stands today—mighty, strong and dependable. It is fulfilling its purpose. Through every obstacle that was put in its way, it stands powerful and regal—a perfect display of what we as humans can obtain if we only remember most of us at some time in our life have also been nuts. But if we keep our roots planted deeply and turn our backs to the winds that would take us down, we will find that life is well worth living—and our purpose can and will be served.
Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Victim Support & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, bringing information and awareness to organizations seeking to properly help and support victims. Hear various interviews at the Broadcasts page of her website: orangeblossomwishes.com.
- Red Lake Women’s Shelter Hosts Domestic Violence Conference (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)