Under the Twisted Oak

For the past two weeks an image has been appearing in my minds eye. A mental snapshot of a very meaningful and moving experience I had as a child.
An image that has reoccured throughout my life, from the time I was a young girl.
I’ve shared this story many times, but never really understood the significance until this morning.

I was about 7 or 8, I decided to tag along with my father to pick up some court transcripts from a co-worker (he was a stenographer) As we arrived at our destination, I felt this sense of belonging for the first time in my short life. There was a certain familiarity here, a connection.

As we pulled up the drive at the end of a narrow oak lined street, I saw her standing there under a massive, twisted oak tree, easel set up, merrily painting away, carefree and focused on the canvas in front of her. The sun was reflecting radiantly off her coppery red hair which was pinned up in a messy bun on top of her head.
She was a large, heavy set woman with fair skin and a warm welcoming demeanor. She carried herself with a gentle elegance that seemed a stark contrast to her physical appearance .
As my father made his way up the stone walkway to the house, I chose instead to stay put, mesmerized by the scene in front of me. Mrs McTwiggan motioned for me to come join her. I was a painfully shy child, yet I felt oddly at ease, drawn to her, through both curiosity and fascination.

I watched as she painted away quietly. Few words were exchanged, but we communicated on a very profound level that day, we spoke without words.

I knew this was a pivotal moment in my young life, that I was standing on ‘sacred ground.’

For the first time in my young life I felt a deep sense of belonging, acceptance, validation and connection.

As I looked into her crystal blue eyes, there was an inner knowing that there were others like me, others who saw ‘beyond the veil’ so to speak, who felt everything as deeply as I did; others who, like myself believed in magic.

For the first time in my life I felt like I was home.

When faced with fear and uncertainty I am reminded of this magical moment. It offers me a deep sense of comfort and safety.

The twisted oak limbs, the smell of paint, the sound of the brush against the rough canvas and the cool breeze that blew gently through the oak leaves, encircling my delicate, young body, hold me close and embrace me to this day.

I am not alone, these memories are alive within me.

Home isn’t a place, no….Home is flesh and blood, living and breathing, home is a moment of magic under an ancient, twisted oak tree.
(Image credit-Peter Lik)

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