At a writing workshop, I’m asked a question I’ve often been dishonest in answering: “What writer(s) have influenced/influence you the most?” On such questionnaires, I carefully write the canon worthy names. Sometimes T.S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson make the cut. Or Flannery O’Connor, Shakespeare, Marilynne Robinson, and W.S. Merwin. But I know my list is lying. I know that no matter how many modern and classic and award winning names I identify and no matter how much each of those writers have and do influence me on a near daily basis, I’m never really telling all the truth unless I include her.
Unless I talk about L.M. Montgomery.
I have a friend who was once viewing an article on Mother Theresa. Somehow, the advertisements on the webpage were not set to “Catholic approved,” since, alongside the picture of the now saint, was an ostentatious full screen ad for Plan B. Seriously. It was a perfect example of “what’s wrong with this picture.” Recently, as I was merrily skipping/clicking links that looked interesting, I came to a well-known religious leadership publication. Maybe it was the devil, because he knew it would assuredly annoy me, but the thing my eye caught under the name of the journal was the two words placed next to each other. It looked like this:
I turn forty in a few weeks, and I want to find the blocks I played with in kindergarten.
I am reading The Hobbit for the first time. I am 40 now, and I am reading it because I have to teach it to 7th graders.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Twenty years ago, as part of an undergraduate history course my freshman year in college, I read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, Where Do We Go From Here? : Chaos or Community, I remember highlighting many passages, and I read the book twice, as was my habit being a college freshman. While specifics have escaped from my mind over two decades, I remember being awed by it, stirred by it, moved by it at my dorm room desk while the wind swirled snow across the open spaces of the college town on the Minnesota prairie.