I Am an Oak

My dear friend (and now former Montreat College professor), Callan White-hinman called me an "Oak" today. What she did not know is that I have always wanted to be one. Evangelicals have these life verses that they ruminate on (kinda like mantras), they use them to define themselves, and often write them out on the bottom of letters or emails. Mine was, Luke 13:19 "Faith is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” In the Message version, (a paraphrase by Eugene Peterson) it says that faith is like an oak whose branches grew wide and broad, larger than any other tree. And the wild birds came to rest in its branches.

I claimed that verse for 20 years (18-38 yrs old). I always loved it because everyone pays attention to the Oak, but what I love is the wild birds. The oak becomes the habitat or ecosystem for birds to rest, to eat, to play, to create their nests, and "become". So, when I read your stories tonight, grieve over your the pain you experienced, and respond to your thank yous and 'you were the best prof I ever had' letters, I realize that maybe life verses are not so cheesy after all.

I am not perfect. I have told all of you for years that I am a heretic. I have stood in front of your classrooms and told you I am going to give you the info I have, but I don't have it all. I've had you over for campfires, goodbye parties, baby showers, late night cries, guitar jam sessions, dart playing, and deeply spiritual conversations on my screen porch. Here is what I know...I have become what I have always wanted to be. I am an oak.


PS- Don't worry about me. I have a great job living in the Caribbean and am doing the science I have always wanted to do among people that are SO fantastic at their jobs that it is humbling. GO TELL YOUR STORY. Your authentic real story that is vulnerable and raw and that the world needs to hear.

PS#2- Someone claimed that I was making unsubstantiated claims. I have added the data I gave to HR, President Maurer, and Dr. Kerr from my last year in this folder here. Honestly, before that year I did not think what was happening to me was wrong. It wasn't until students (the next generation) reported it, that I started documenting what was happening. I will continue to add data to this folder for those that what to share theirs. If you share it with me personally, I WILL NOT share it publicly.