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…

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…

Thoughts From the Valley

“With every job when it’s complete There is a sense of bitter-sweet That moment when you know the task is done…” Mary Poppins February 2010. I’m crying in a theater in mid-town Manhattan. Heeding the advice of one of my bosses from college, who regularly travelled to New York for business, I’ve taken this evening…

The Civilly Disobedient

Is it ever right–ethically or morally–to break the law? Explain why or why not. -Honors American Literature journal question, Monday It’s always a good day when I get to stand on a chair. I sense that the students understand this, also, even as they mutter about being hustled, a few minutes into class, from their…

The {Not Terribly} Simple Life

Friday I come home for lunch. More precisely, I leave school shortly before lunch, to pick Luci up from friends’ house, where she’s spent the morning playing with twin two-year-old boys. These boys spend another weekday at our house, where Timmy runs a three-toddler circus with extraordinary energy and humor. Whenever she’s going to spend…

Sewing Machine

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,  some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.  I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.  Elizabeth Bishop, from “One Art”   The sewing machine came from downstairs. Also Americans working in missions, our neighbors have been in Europe for decades, so I correctly guessed that she…

Sustainability {Or, Measuring A Year}

Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets In midnights, in cups of coffee In inches, in miles In laughter, in strife In five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes How do you measure A year in the life? From “Seasons of Love,” RENT June 24…

A Witness of Transformation

The morning of my last Commencement Day, I woke up feeling rested and disoriented. I’d been traveling for almost three months in Great Britain and Ireland, and that morning, I was in Riomaggiore, the southernmost village of the Cinque Terre, in northern Italy, spending a week traveling with a friend from home after my quarter…

The Teachers of JB 11

It’s a hot day, a last sort of school day. Really, it’s the second-to-last day we’re working with wet clay in Ceramics 3, where I’ve been filling in for a colleague on maternity leave for the last month or so. The seven students, mostly seniors, are buzzing about, putting finishing touches on their pieces. They…