Broken Bowl, Beautiful Bread

I knew what had happened before I saw it. The familiar crash, gravity precipitating a collision between ceramic tile and ceramic dish, and then a groan of disappointment from the dropper. Usually, to be honest, it’s me dropping stuff, but this time it was my daughter, a toddler who remarkably has broken only one mug in…

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…

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…

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…

Of Exile {In The Library}

Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile,…

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…

A Chronicle of Longing

A very happy Last Day of Class from Black Forest Academy. For me, there are still two weeks of work left: two exams, two ceramics critiques, a debate, a graduation ceremony, and a few days of staff meetings and moving the Middle School. This makes our final day a little anticlimactic compared to the homework-burning,…

Speaking

“What’s a fear you’ve overcome?” my student asks me from across the desk. “Public speaking,” I say without thinking, and she raises her eyebrows. Though we’re in English class, spending the day filling out interest surveys by engaging in an enthusiastic round of “speed dating,” this particular student is also in my Public Speaking class…