Anecdote: Pine Cone - by Helen Murray

Sometimes, God does things for no other reason than to make us smile. Don't you think so?

Take the other day, for instance. God knows that I love pine cones. He knows that I can't walk past a pine cone without picking it up, and if it's in good condition I can't help but bring it home.  As a result, we have a pile of pinecones in the rockery, more on the bookshelves and still more hanging about on various window sills.

There's something about a pine cone. Long ones, thin ones, fat ones, big round ones - they're just lovely. The shape of them, the shadows, the texture, the fragrance. Some of them remind me of the place I picked them up; sentimental value. Yes, I have a thing for pine cones. 

Let me tell you a little story.

I was small, maybe six or seven, and I was on holiday with my family. Where, I don't remember. We were walking along a path and there were pine-cone-trees right and left. There was dappled sunlight and lots of pine cones on the floor, and as I skipped along I remarked,

'Wouldn't it be strange if  a pine cone fell from a tree, right in front of me, right now?'

And do you know what?  One did

Just like that. A pine cone fell from a tree and landed on the path right in front of me! What are the odds?  I was amazed and delighted; I remember clapping my hands with joy. I was just happily walking along, thought what a coincidence it would be if a pine cone fell off a tree directly in front of me, and to my intense surprise, one did. 

Or so I thought. For thirty-five years or so, that's what I thought. 

Then came the day when it all fell apart. The conversation was on the subject of pine cones. My brain did a little riffle through the files labelled 'Anecdotes: Pine Cone' and came up with this story. I retold it, with due dramatic emphasis on the wonder of the falling pine cone, and then this, from my Mum:

'That was Dad.'

In the silence that followed I grew up.  My innocence slipped slowly to the floor and lay in tatters.

All these years I had believed in the Mystery of the Pine Cone and it turned out that my Dad nipped unseen behind me, picked one up, and dropped it in front of me. And then the secret was kept, year after year. Everyone knew but innocent old gullible me. And now...


You'd think it would have been enough to put me off pine cones, wouldn't you? When I finally did discover the magnitude of this deception I think I might have been forgiven for purging my house of all pine cones and refusing to have one near me ever again. I might have been scarred for life. But no, the humble pine cone was not at fault; my great affection for them remains.

One afternoon last week I was walking on a narrow pavement with Mum and my two daughters. They were behind me, negotiating with Grandma about finance for a trip to the ice cream shop on the way home. I paused to let them catch up, and as I stood, gazing idly across the road, what should happen?

pine cone. 

Dropped off a tree right in front of me. And this time, it did

With a small sound, a tiny brittle thud, a modest little pine cone fell in the middle of the road and lay there, looking at me. We looked at each other.

The newcomer is on the right.
The fulfilment of thirty-five years of deception and the subsequent Disillusionment Years.  Lying in the middle of the road.

wanted that pine cone.

Of course, at that very moment, that leafy little side-road became M1-like in nature as car after car went past, slaloming in and out of parked vehicles.

I didn't take my eyes of my vulnerable little pine cone, quite sure that after it's wondrous and timely appearance it was destined to be squashed flat by school traffic.

Children and mums I knew passed by and looked at me quizzically; I fear I led them to believe that it was one of the children who was insisting on retrieving the fallen pine cone.

'We need the pine cone!' I said by way of explanation, with a wry smile and just a hint of eye rolling. They laughed and nodded in amused recognition at the whimsy of a small child. Yes, we did need the pine cone, but I needed it, not the small children. 

As the exhaust fumes cleared, there it was. Intact. 

Miracle upon miracle. 

So I am the proud owner of another pine cone. This one fresh from the tree. It dropped right down in my line of sight, co-incidentally and in an entirely random way. Nobody reached over my head. I even checked behind me this time. Nobody there.

Except God. He was there. He knows about my relationship with pine cones and he knows about Conegate. He knew what would make my heart swell and what would lift our ordinary autumn afternoon into something special.

He just gave me a present.  Dad, I hope you were watching from Heaven. This was for you, too. 

Thank you, Father God, for your sense of humour. You make my day.

Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

Having spent time as a researcher, church worker and Hand Therapist, Helen is now a full time mum and writer, currently supposed to be working on her first novel. Or at least working on something. 

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims, breeds Aloe Vera plants and collects ceramic penguins.

Helen has two blogs: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and Badger on the Roof where readers are treated to a blow by blow account of her novel-writing progress, or lack thereof. It's been a while since there was anything to report, but she hasn't given up.

You can also find her here:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray
Twitter: @helenmurray01


  1. A lovely story of love and deception. Sue

  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome. I'm glad it made you smile.

  3. Oh Helen this brought tears to my eyes! What a lovely story. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Deborah. I'm so glad you liked it. x

  4. If he can keep an eye on every single sparrow in the world, he can sort you out for pine cones. Great blog. :)

    1. He certainly can. I even have a Scargill Pine Cone.
      Thanks, Fran. x

  5. He just connects with what we need sometimes. Doesn't matter what it is really :-)

    1. So gentle!
      The Creator of the universe cares about me and you. Amazing, hey?

  6. Love this story, Helen. I couldn't resist picking up conkers outside a local school last week: I love their shiny copper surfaces when they're freshly fallen. Shame they don't last as well as pine-cones. And I love the reminder that sometimes God does something totally unexpected to bless us, even though it's something that might not seem particularly significant to others.

    1. Fiona, I have a bowlful of conkers too! So beautiful, and for me they're like rainbows; a reminder of the promise of our heavenly Father. Thanks for understanding! x

  7. Lovely story. Nice to end Sunday with a smile!

    1. Thanks, Allison. I'm glad it made you smile. x

  8. Thanks Helen. As delightful as ever.
    My dad used to suggest that God had a 'Department of Coincidental Affairs'!

    1. I love 'The Department of Coincidental Affairs'! I shall remember that. Thanks Ian.

  9. That made me smile. :) Just lovely.


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