When I was five I met a girl during one of my sojourns through the woods with the family dog. Kate was on vacation with her family from the very exotic state of New York. Her father was a writer, her mother the coolest tomboy mom I had ever met and her little brother had those dark brown doe eyes of innocence. I was in love with this family; I imposed myself into their vacation world as much as possible. They had a very different view of the world, bringing me a way of looking at life I had yet to experience in my tender years.
I don’t remember the violation, but I do remember the chestnut. It was given to my friend because she had done something wrong; something in her expansive six years of human existence that she knew was wrong and had done it anyway! Her parents did not berate her, instead they calmly handed her the sacred chestnut. I was fascinated as they explained to me, “She will hold this and think to herself about what she chose to do, and how it affected others. We cannot tell her how to feel, she will know.” Now the pain of discovery was evident on her flushed cheeks, especially since her Cape Cod friend was in audience to her shame.
After that I painstakingly picked a chestnut for myself from the beneath that very same tree and kept it in a silver cup in my room all through my teenage years. There were many times it called to me, it helped me grow in ways no one else could have. It humbled me in its silence, because my soul knew intuitively what my best choices were even if my teenage angst chose otherwise. That chestnut, as well as Kate and her family, and I have since drifted apart as good friends sometimes do in life, but the lessons in love and forgiveness of oneself still remain.