A Lasting Gold

I serve as the newspaper advisor at my school. It is a great opportunity to pull students into the realm of words. We live in a society which feeds on images and short bursts of texts and digital characters, so it’s satisfying to expose students to something deeper, more powerful.

This week we’ve been wrapping up our annual double issue, and things were not going very smoothly. Until today. Continue reading

Lifting Us Off the Page

Word by word, time stretches across the nouns and verbs of my day, like a long, linear blue ribbon from the edge of a cursor, tentatively highlighting the scattered, choppy fragments of the day. 

Time helps me bind those circumstances into sentences, into something that hopefully matters. Every day I struggle for a word-processed coherence, doing my best to compose meaning and structure as I go. But often there isn’t time to cut. Let alone to paste. Continue reading

“Just eat it.”

“I’ve come to believe that we expect too little of teens. We ask them in school to dissect Shakespeare; what are we asking them to do with their faith?” — Laura Leonard

This is a frustrating, difficult question. But we should still ask it. I currently teach in a small, rural high school, where a Christian walk is assumed and expected of everyone for the most part. Unless you’re one of “those” kids, that is.

Continue reading

The Language of Emptiness

I’m sitting in an empty coffee shop. Earlier, when I ordered my trusty cup of Darjeeling No. 10, the barista dutifully apprised me that the Wi-Fi signal was down. Maybe this muting of technology’s mouth has something to do with the emptiness of the shop.

So what happens when technology gets a sore throat and can’t talk?

Well, besides myself, two young university linguists are sitting on a couch. Their backpacks, laptops and cell phones, which are all spread around them like dashboard instruments, are all closed up and turned off. They’re talking while I’m listening from the opposite wall. I’m convinced they’re the only people Continue reading

The Weight of a Good Word


Tonight, I met one of my literary superheroes. Garrison Keillor. After my friend mentioned to him that I, too, had been an English major, he looked into my eyes and pressed a little further. “What do you do?” he wanted to know.

“I teach.”

“What do you teach?”


“Who do you teach to?” he persisted.

“High school students.”

And with a soft baritone strand, he added, “Bless your heart.”

A good word commands with the weight of silk, always encouraging us and entangling us into something larger than ourselves.