While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
– William Wordsworth
I’ll never forget the feelings I had the first time I saw Salvador Dali’s “The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper”in the stair well of the West Wing of the National Gallery.
Last night I watched Babette’s Feast, a bowl of luscious Rainer cherries in one hand, a nursing baby in the other. This film is about appetite.
In 1964, the Civil Rights movement was in full swing. The summer before, Martin Luther King Jr. had led his famous march on Washington. And in Jackson, Mississippi Medgar Evers, the head of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP was shot and killed outside his home. His children were in the house.
Tuesday, I give my junior high ESL classes a simple homework assignment. As you speak English, I say, pay attention to where you fall silent. Notice the words you don’t have English for. Then choose one of those that you think you really ought to know and look up the English definition.
I love my job. I get paid to read and write and have deeply edifying conversations (i.e. teach classes) with talented and motivated fellow truth-seekers. Despite the difficulties that can arise, I live in the space of Frederick Buechner’s well-known definition of calling: “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”The word “job”doesn’t begin to cut it. I can’t speak a whole lot to other kinds of environments, but teaching literature and creative writing at a small Christian liberal arts school is a lifestyle choice. We’ve worked to cultivate a sense of community that extends well beyond the classroom. Sometimes community unfolds in Reade Center, room 241; sometimes it’s in the dining commons, The Jumping Bean, a van ride back from a conference, a hammock at our retreat, Twitter, or my family’s living room floor.