Goodbye, Town.

From our last night in Kandern, Germany. (With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown.)   In the great green room There is a glowing world And a tiny spoon And a picture of kids, pointing up at the moon. There are two goldfish, and a bunny dish. And two paper stars, and a purple car. And…

What You Leave

“What’s it like leaving?” It’s the question of the month, a fair one to ask after eight years in missions, seven at Black Forest Academy. The answer, I mostly reply, is that it’s complicated. Because there are many kinds of leaving, and they all mean different things. Today—with our students graduated as of this morning…

Last Day Letter: Our Better Country

Ever since the student-teaching days, I’ve ended school with a letter. It’s something I remember loving in high school—the one time a teacher did it—these final written words that summed up a year. Now, I write as much for myself as for them, this summing-up providing my own version of closure. I started posting them…

Questions From Under A Table

Each spring, the juniors at BFA end the year by writing college essays, personal statements that answer one or both of two broad questions: “What has made you who you are?” and “What do you care most deeply about?” Every few years, I feel inspired to write an essay of my own to share with…

For Sale: A Good Tent

I have a confession to make. Though I fear that this admission may lead to the recall of my Dahlstrom Card, for the sake of honesty and the all-important Need To Tell A Story, I make it here with fear and trembling: I haven’t slept in my tent–or any tent, for that matter–in four years….

One Step Ahead

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 “Just remember, it’s not scary.” The juniors giggle nervously, fidgeting with blank-screened phones and tapping pencils on their blue journals, open to pages filled with questions. At the beginning of class, I…

An Ode To New Friends

Graduation seasons begin early around here. Though Black Forest Academy still has a good six weeks of school left on the calendar, social media means that we get to participate virtually in the early graduations of universities in America, from which mortarboards and monochromatic robes have begun to fill Facebook and Instagram. This is always…

The Crucible: Classic & Current

You must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time—we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the…

Home Is Where We Start From

Three days into spring break, I find myself on a windy hilltop, alone and reading poetry. At my back is the high outer wall of Rodborough Fort, a well-kept castle of indeterminate history or function, not open to the public but apparently available to lease. I text Timmy a picture of the castle and the…

Haunted By Homes

“No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.” Creed Bratton, The Office Luci and I halt abruptly in front of the kitchen/toy/hardware store window display on Hauptstrasse, because I’ve spied a familiar word. Beside an elegant box containing three ceramic egg-cups and…