Faith & Truth / The English Teacher


Conversations in classrooms, over drinks, around dinner tables, or even via email inspire me. Reading  — novels, essays, poetry, or even the rare but wonderful witty tweet — inspires as well. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…” just popped into my head, and I had to stop for a moment,so that I could revel in words at their work. The effect always seems magical to me.  Sleight of hand. Subterfuge. Misdirection. The inevitable ‘ahhhh’ of praise and satisfaction when the trick is completed.

Wordsmiths aren’t magicians, though they practice a mysterious craft. Writers create illusions of reality; so much so that we wish our own world might be just a bit more like Narnia, with its talking beavers and glorious Lion, or like Pemberley, grand in its promise of Mr Darcy. The best of the lot reminds us that reality resembles the illusion most profoundly, for

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,…” 

Much like Bullwinkle and his efforts to impress Rocky with what he didn’t have hiding up his sleeve, I am finding that there’s “no doubt about it — I better get another hat.”  My own grammatical wrangling testifies to it. Today, my writing is in the first act  — “the Pledge.” I show you something ordinary — something “real, unaltered, normal.”  A reminder, for instance, that ‘friends matter’ — and a beer jingle from the 80s that supports it.  Every once in awhile, I might veer toward “the Turn” — taking that unaltered, ordinary thing, and rendering it just the slightest bit ‘extraordinary.’ A metaphor highlighting fruit trees, whose sweet, fragrant blossoms give way to the more deeply satisfying crunch of a Pink Lady (the finest apple I’ve ever tasted) results. But only when the seeds of that apple disappear, and I make them reappear as a small sturdy sapling reaching for the sunlight — then and only then will I have conquered ‘the Prestige.’

As a writer I’ve pledged to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary — bring you through the turn. An ‘entrance.’ An ‘exit.’ A visit to ‘Pemberley.’ Narnia reliably points us to the ‘greatest story’ — and each chapter there is better than the one before, and “no one on earth has read it” (Lewis — The Last Battle). The “deeper magic from before the dawn of time” hides here, in ‘the shadowlands,’ but when ‘the Prestige’ is finally performed, everything will be changed. One Word, true and everlasting, promises the transformation. No more “walling in or walling out,” because, “something there is that doesn’t love a wall/ That wants it down!” A Revelation, if you will. Writers and their Words.



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