On Teaching as a Sacred Vocation

Today I meet another class of students for an advanced writing course.

I write that sentence like it’s an ordinary thing, a casual blip in my day.

What’s actually happening involves a sacred intersection of souls that changes everything. They change me; I change them.

We can’t help it. Sitting together like this, we engage in a profoundly spiritual act of exchanging ideas, personalities, plans, and dreams. Even when I’m teaching professional materials like the bland cover letter for a job application, I consider the span of these adult lives. I consider the entire network of people they will know and love and communities they might change.

I consider the millions of verbs they’ll use and the kinds of sentences they might write. What love letters, resignation letters, or birth announcements? What essays that could shape culture forever? What film scripts we’ll cry over and hold our loved ones nearer because of? What court documents, political speeches, documentaries, or journalism pieces? What rants and complaints, what testimonies, what manifestos? What poems and stories? What eulogies, because death comes to us all? Oh, the sentences they hold within them!

It’s extraordinary when you think about how very precious each person is and how a teacher has this privileged position of knowing these students and activating them in some way.

It’s serious work. It’s beautiful work.

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