My grandmother used to say, “kids are baked when they’re born.” And she had twelve kids, so I always imagine that she knew what she was talking about – each of her twelve kids was totally different from the others, in the way the looked, in the way they acted, and in their wishes for what they wanted their lives to be like.

My own kids are like that, too. A friend of my older daughter used to ask, “which parent did you get [some skill or talent] from?” She would always shrug, because most of her interests and skills are so different from anything that her dad and I bring to the table. We look at her in wonder, like, “where did she come from?” She was baked when she was born, and according to her own patterns. It’s true for both kids – they are different from each other and different from us. They have their own ideas, and it’s a joy to watch them bring their own lives into being.

It’s such a cliché to say that the acorn holds the full pattern of the oak – but when I look at the oak trees in our neighborhood, each of them is so different from the others. Even the burr oaks, like the one in this photo – they have recognizably similar acorns and leaves and bark – but each one looks so different from the others.

And I love to think of it – that each of us comes from our own little acorn, one that has its own pattern. And that as we’ve grown into oaks we’ve grown other acorns – ideas or visions or friendships or children – and those have grown into oak trees of their own. A whole created forest of gifts come to life.