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WORDS FROM FRIENDS

LESSONS FROM THE JOURNEY

IT’S HARD BEING A HUMAN BEING



First published April 30, 2016 in The Gallup Independent as a "Religious Perspectives" column. Some minor changes have been made.

It was about 6 pm, and we had two more hours to go. I stood in the hallway with one of my students and another teacher. It was the mid-evening break at our afternoon and evening high school. The young man said, “Yeah, I worked all day scraping tar and gravel off a roof. When I get home, I want to read a story to my son, but I’m already so tired.” His face was weathered dark, with a light beige mask around his eyes where sunglasses had screened his skin. He went on, “I’m trying to help my family in Mexico and support my own little family. And I want to graduate.” Saul wasn’t complaining, just telling it like it was.

I put my hand on his shoulder and said only, “It’s hard being a human being.” I said it so often to my students. Sometimes I added, “And it’s even harder being a teenager.”

When my daughter was a junior in high school, we signed up to Read More 
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TO DRINK FROM THE SILVER CUP

REFLECTIONS ON MY
FESTIVAL OF FAITH AND WRITING



I just attended a conference where Zadie Smith, Tobias Wolff, George Saunders, and Nadia Bolz-Weber were the keynote speakers, and I didn’t go listen to any of them. That’s right. I would have loved to. As a writer of creative nonfiction, I especially wanted to hear Tobias Wolff. And I haven’t yet made it to Nadia’s church when I’ve been visiting Cheyenne in Denver. But I had other fish to fry at the Festival of Faith and Writing (FFW) at Calvin College, one of my alma maters.

The FFW is only held biennially, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary. Over the years it has hosted such literary luminaries as Salmon Rushdie, Marilynne Robinson, Chaim Potok, Maya Angelou, Elie Wiesel, John Updike, Madeleine L’Engle, Annie Dillard, Katherine Paterson—the list goes on and includes many, many less known authors. So it’s no wonder that I have had my eye on presenting at the conference for even longer than two years.

This year a few friends and I made a concerted effort to get me on the schedule. At the time, To Drink from the Silver Cup hadn’t yet found a publisher, but I had published it as a serial in blog format on my website, and I offered a few different presentations I could make—one being about the pros and cons of blogging a book, something I thought other writers could be quite interested in. It was not to be. When I finally heard back Read More 
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