… on acorns and oaks



There is a college a wee bit south of us…

Okay, eleven hours south.

Fifteen if there are multiple pile-ups on i95, somewhere around Washington, D.C. where I’m pretty sure people forgot that close quarters combined with high speed and brake lights equal the random, often highly impactful colliding of rather heavy mechanical objects  (but who’s keeping track?)


It seems that centers for higher eduction are a bit addicted to ceremony, often with a smidgen of pomp and a dash of circumstance in the mix.

I am not a glutton for formalities (I know, this may come as a shock to many of you), and the before and after gatherings and ‘meet and greets’ are not my faves… though I am very happy that, long ago, I turned the once abject horror I felt upon seeing a table full of name tags into joy when I see that they are not pre-printed.  Because when I am handed a “Hello, my name is” sticker, I immediately fill in with “Inigo Montoya” (which is like a silent pick up line for my tribe).

Oh, sorry. Digressed again.

So the other day there was this ceremony…

Each year under the oaks at Elon University, on the day after the incoming class moves into their dorms, the entirety of the school’s faculty gathers with students and their families for the new student convocation. Among others, the university’s President welcomes everyone and weaves words of gratitude and responsibility and learning into a common and comfy blanket (which we all wanted to trade in for air conditioning because it had hit 100 degrees the day before and the morning sun was gathering strength as the seconds ticked by).

But then, as suddenly as it began, the talking ceased. And the professors rose from their seats and moved off to line both sides of a long walkway.  The students and audience were asked to stand, and the symbols of the ceremony were readied.


Turns out, the name ‘Elon’ is Hebrew for ‘oak’.

And under these shady oaks on a late summer’s morning, each student would receive an acorn… a totem to remind them that they have everything they need to sprout, to grow through the next four years and beyond.

And, when they graduate?

They will each receive an oak sapling.  Something to aspire toward.

I know… with today’s tuition payments, that had better be one freakin’ awesome sapling. 

But I get it.

And I really love the concept.

I did all the things the other parents did at that ceremony…

Looked for my kid in a sea of freshmen (Found him. Easy at 6’5, and a bit of directional help via texts)…

Wondered how his first night at college had been.

Stood, in awe, that we were there… gratitude mixing with wonder mixing with pangs of missing him that were already tugging at my heart…

And when the speeches stopped and the people stood, my eyes found my son… and my feet began to move.

He had places to go, a schedule to keep.

But there was no way I was leaving without an embrace that could not possibly say what I wanted to say, though there were no words that could be made so few or small to express what I wanted to, and allow him to be on time to where he needed to be.

I caught up to him, as did his Dad.

I looked at him and asked him to pose with his acorn.

I snapped a few pics and, knowing a quick ‘see ya!’ was better than a slow scene, I looked at him and leaned in.

His huge wings enveloped me, and my own – the ones that will still slay dragons for him, should he require it – found their way around him.  And the thoughts…

Be a good human.

Do good things.

I am so proud of you.

Be safe.

I cannot wait to watch and see and meet who you become, as you find out more about who you are.

Those thoughts swirled in my head and heart.. and in my core.

And boiled down, as I stepped back, into three small words and a smile.

“You got this.”

And he does.

Thanks for readin’.


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