Cheerleaders, Not Helicopters

Well, isn't this something:

When we examined whether regular help with homework had a positive impact on children’s academic performance, we were quite startled by what we found. Regardless of a family’s social class, racial or ethnic background, or a child’s grade level, consistent homework help almost never improved test scores or grades. Most parents appear to be ineffective at helping their children with homework. Even more surprising to us was that when parents regularly helped with homework, kids usually performed worse. 

I can't say I'm surprised. At the high school level, many of my students regularly receive help from their parents, and the results are frequently negative:

  • Parents complain that the work is too hard or the assignments are unclear. Since they have never attended my class or received my feedback, I can see why they think so! But, likewise, I find this kind of criticism unfair. I would much rather hear from my students.
  • The corrections parents make to their children's work are often incorrect. In particular, they have a predilection for the passive voice (e.g., "Edgar Allan Poe is known for his impressive writing,") which I have made it my mission to eradicate in student writing.
  • If students assume their parents will be helping them with their assignments, they will put forth less effort in communication, time management and locating resources -- the three main components of a successful homework assignment.

The article goes on to say that parents can be great motivators, and that they should go out of their way to communicate the value of education to their children -- insisting they keep their grades up, limiting leisure and extracurricular activities during the school year, and choosing schools where their children will be able to succeed with hard work and determination. But this helicopter parenting, in which parents are constantly communicating with teachers about their nearly-adult children, is detrimental to all three parties -- children, parents and teachers.

As Robinson and Harris conclude, "What should parents do? They should set the stage and then leave it."

Amen!

Grudgingly Vegan

Although Lent is first and foremost a time for spiritual growth, there is no ignoring the practical reality of 49 days without animal products. (Curiously, shellfish are allowed, most likely because ancient Christians considered them one step above insects. Fish with backbones are permitted on two days.) We don't eat a ton of meat, but I do miss the freedom to exercise the option, and I eat eggs, cheese and yogurt nearly every day. It's difficult to plan around this without overindulging in the permitted luxuries of flour and sugar. But, over the years, I have come up with a few standbys that I can pretty reliably enjoy:

Easiest (Someone else cooks)

  • Chipotle's Sofritas salad. If I add guacamole, I can barely finish the whole thing.
  • Mussels, preferably from Victoria
  • Falafel (current favorite, Nora's, is Armenian-owned!)
  • Shrimp Ceviche from the Mexican restaurant I just discovered EIGHT BLOCKS away
  • Any Thai curry: also fairly easy to make, but then it would jump to the next list.

Medium (Under an hour)

  • Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce; green salad on the side
  • Kimchi rice (Trader Joe's sells it frozen) with stir-fried baby bok choy
  • Turkish lentil soup with French carrot salad
  • Quinoa tossed with cucumber, avocado, tomato and a preserved-lemon dressing
  • Curried tofu salad over arugula (I add chopped apples and grated carrots)

Hard (but worth it, if there's time)

  • Hummus, Mahammra and Baba Gannouj from this book
  • Gypsy Beans (I like to serve them over spinach as an entree)
  • Asian Shrimp Salad (this is not difficult, but involves a lot of prep as it's served with a platter of fresh vegetables, herbs, rice noodles and fruit.)
  • Vegetarian Pho (the broth takes awhile, but I make a ton, so subsequent meals are faster)
  • Broccoli Aglio e Olio (technically this is not Lenten because of the anchovies, but it is amazing. You absolutely must use Aleppo pepper.

Having a list like this is comforting for that point in the fast when absolutely nothing besides bacon sounds appetizing. Now, if I can just remember that I posted it next year . . . 

On Taking Your Own Advice

I had a wonderful conversation today with a new friend who recently began teaching. She had a bad week, almost quit and called me to talk. Her words were so familiar that hearing them was like hearing myself a decade ago.

After listening with complete empathy, I replied, in essence:

  • The devil sows confusion. Whenever there is hearsay or gossip or implication, there is room for misinterpretation and divisiveness, the enemies of progress. Do your best to cling to the truth and to let everything else fall away.
  • Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. They will, St. Paul notwithstanding, but you must dismiss their criticisms. Age does not guarantee maturity.
  • When people say cruel things, they often speak out of envy. A young, talented, wise leader is a target for all kinds of hateful comments. Pray for those people, remembering the worst things you have said with a jealous heart.
  • If your supervisors really wanted you to leave, they would have asked you to leave. Instead, they have said that they're proud of the work you're doing and that they believe God has called you to minister here. Write down as much as you can remember of those positive, encouraging thoughts they gave you. Re-read them anytime you are feeling persecuted. They are the reality of your situation. The rest just doesn't matter.
  • Remembering David Foster Wallace's words about worship, choose to worship God and to view yourself as He sees you -- flawed and struggling, but always with your eyes fixed on Him.

After talking with her for several hours, we hung up both feeling deeply nourished: helping is at least as gratifying as being helped. It occurred to me later that what I said was very good advice, but that none of it was my own; reading back over it, I can hear my mother, my priest, several dear friends and my extraordinarily wise husband. 

It also occurred to me that, if I took my own advice, I would be a much more joyful, loving and Christ-centered person. Not a bad thing to learn this week, halfway through Great Lent.

Lent, Anew

This is my seventeenth Lent as an Orthodox Christian -- which means I have now been Orthodox for longer than I was not Orthodox. But this is the first year I have really looked forward to Lent. I know I need it. My life feels out of balance, drifting, directionless, turned inward. I crave the peace that comes from humility, that only the most focused, demanding spirituality can provide. I think of Saydeh's words: "Lent is a joy." Yes.

Last week I rediscovered the Audio Bible I bought for Rob years ago. I decided to start it from the beginning. At first I found Jon Sherberg's voice uncannily dramatic, distracting. But after the first handful of chapters, I didn't hear his voice at all -- just the stories. Wow. It's been decades since I heard some of them, and it's as if I'm hearing them for the first time. They floated back to me in clumps as we sang the Canon of St. Andrew last week:

  • I have rivaled in transgression Adam the first-formed man, and I have found myself stripped naked of God, of the eternal Kingdom and its joy, because of my sins.
  • The Lord once rained down fire from heaven and consumed the land of Sodom. O my soul, flee like Lot to the mountain, and take refuge in Zoar before it is too late.
  • Leah is action, for she had many children; and Rachel is knowledge, for she endured great toil.  For without toil, O my soul, neither action nor contemplation will succeed.
  • Once Joseph was cast into a pit, O Lord and Master, as a figure of Thy Burial and Resurrection.  But what offering such as this shall I ever make to Thee?
  • David, the forefather of God, once sinned doubly, pierced with the arrow of adultery and the spear of murder. But thou, my soul, art more gravely sick than he, for worse than any acts are the impulses of thy will.
  • I have put before thee, my soul, Moses' account of the creation of the world, and after that all the recognized Scriptures that tell thee the story of the righteous and the wicked.  But thou, my soul, hast followed the second of these, not the first, and hast sinned against God.

About halfway through the 90-minute service on Tuesday, I finally started to pray, really pray. And just then, I caught the eye of a tiny baby who was nestled in a blanket on the floor, on the other side of the wooden lectern where my music rested. As I bowed and reached for the floor with my fingertips, she gave me the full-body smile only a baby can deliver, and I had to smile back. There is joy, too, even in the midst of repentance. Maybe the repentance is what brings the joy in the first place.

 

What Abraham Meant

And besides all this –

Besides wars and floods,

Besides illness and death,

Besides storms and earthquakes,

Besides random and orchestrated violence,

Besides the sinister, rippling presence of evil,

 

Between us and you –

Between east and west,

Between young and old,

Between shunned and shunning,

Between fruitful and barren,

Between colored and colorless,

 

A great chasm has been fixed.

In the passive voice:

We don't know who fixed it,

or why,

or how.

Just that it’s been fixed.

 

In order that those who would pass –

Would transcend difference,

Would accept a new perspective,

Would warm stone and soften iron,

Would build ladders and weave bridges,

Would step outside of their other-ness,

 

From here to you –

From then to now,

From imprisoned to free,

From stuck to inspired,

From rocky to smooth,

From one to two to ten,

 

May not be able –

Able to embrace,

Able to understand,

Able to smile bravely,

Able to foster renewal,

Able to see through the fog,

 

And none may cross –

None of the lonely,

None of the trapped,

None of the repentant,

None of the ordinary,

None of the suffering,

 

From there to us.

Six Ways to Sunday

Every day these little vignettes pass me by, when Sunday's peace seems a distant memory and I'm just trying to make it through another week. But now that I have a five-day weekend to reflect (thank you, late winter storm!) I find them coming back to me, making me smile all over again.

  1. We've just finished learning venir, to come, and bid goodbye to the early-dismissal track star; as she leaves, I explain to the class that revenir, to come back, is conjugated the same way. "So if you want to ask someone to come ba--," and inspiration cuts me off. I stride to the doorway and shout, "REVIENS!" She halts, bewildered, and the class dissolves in laughter. Meanwhile, the students in the hall get a sneak preview of my new advertising campaign for the French program.
  2. My favorite lesson of the whole year happens to be the day of my annual observation. I guide the class in the rhythmic tapping of iambic pentameter, the beating of the heart through the poet's words. Da-DUM. Da-DUM. Da-DUM. Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet prince! Oh no, it is an ever-fixed mark. Titania waked and straightway loved an ass. Hyperbole, metaphor, double entendre. Richly-laden lines twist over and around them until their own are pouring forth: Australia is a lovely place to be.  My doggie loves to play and roll in snow. Morning coffee suddenly sounds poetic, and sunburned afternoons call to them from future summers. When the bell rings, my department chair apologizes for staying through the whole period: "I just didn't want to leave."
  3. Midway through a quiz, a student decides to reword a sentence and spends a good three minutes crossing it out. Her laborious scraping of pen on paper is finally interrupted with the clean smack of a whiteout pen on her desk, delivered with silent reproach by her neighbor who doesn't even look up from her own work. I can't help but laugh: that girl will make a great mom someday.
  4. During a "free" period as I'm hustling through the next batch of papers, I comment on one: "When I die, I want you to write my obituary." I am completely serious. If she can make a paper about Salinger sound as fresh and hopeful as he wasn't, I imagine she could do a lot for my posthumous public image. 
  5. Two separate parents, within a week of each other, thanked me for being hard on their children. "This is part of growing up," one said. "She needs to take responsibility for her actions," said another. My faith in modern parenting ceased its precipitous freefall and actually took a few halting, hopeful steps back toward the light.
  6. In the stairwell, as students jostle each other to get to break and I attempt to keep out of the way, I spot one who is particularly pained by the tangle of backpacks and ponytails. "This is SO not ideal," she huffs. I suppress a smile, but as I consider her words over the next few days, I realize it's a perfect thesis statement for my life. Maybe for yours, too.

2013 in Review

Greetings, everyone! What a year it has been. Our Christmas postcards (mailed today) invite you to read more about our travels on this site, so that means I need to post something more exhaustive than the snippets I've been throwing out every few weeks. This has not been a good year for blogging. But traveling, yes: six countries, dozens of cities and hundreds of photos. Let me explain -- no, there is too much -- let me sum up:

Early in the spring, we spent a day in New Orleans before driving out to St. Francisville for a weekend of fun with our dear friends Rod and Julie, their endlessly entertaining children and their picturesque backdrop of a town:

Yes, it's actually that beautiful there. Don't you read Rod's blog?!

Yes, it's actually that beautiful there. Don't you read Rod's blog?!

Back home, we planted our annual garden that would later be the victim of our annual neglect. Hey, we were busy. My parents, on the other hand, were far more industrious and took locavorism one step further with the acquisition of eight hens. They started out teeny-tiny, like this,

Rob named her McNugget. The others have more dignified appellations.

Rob named her McNugget. The others have more dignified appellations.

And grew to healthy hen sizes by summer's end, when they were filling several cartons of eggs a week.

Not pictured: the hilarious noises chickens make when you get close enough for a photo.

Not pictured: the hilarious noises chickens make when you get close enough for a photo.

We enjoyed two snowstorms, both on feasts of the Theotokos. Here's Annunciation Day's haul, which gave us a nice long weekend in March.

Poor birdies.

Poor birdies.

One of the most rewarding things in our lives is our participation in the community of Holy Cross parish, where Rob helps with the gardens, I lead the chanters and we have many wonderful friends. I've also continued to perform with Boston Byzantine Choir this year, including a concert in Montreal in April, where we saw the stunning Notre Dame cathedral and an equally stunning variety pack of weather (rain, snow, hail, wind and sunshine in under 48 hours!) 

I don't think I've ever paid money to enter a church before, but this was worth it!

I don't think I've ever paid money to enter a church before, but this was worth it!

A couple of weeks later, we celebrated the Resurrection in our own parish, far more humble but just as lovely to us. Here we are gathered outside the doors, where we sing the first joyful "Christ is Risen!" of the year.

Who is the King of Glory?

Who is the King of Glory?

Despite the fact that we both grew up in Baltimore, neither of us had ever been to Pimlico Racetrack until this spring, when we enjoyed watching and placing bets on several minor races. Rob was the big winner, pocketing $12.50.

Off to the races . . . 

Off to the races . . . 

And, a big fan of classic rock, he knows when every concert is happening, so we attend more than I'd like to admit. Here's the Rolling Stones show in Philadelphia, to which he took his father as a birthday present.

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Our first big trip of the summer was to Colorado, where Rob had an architecture convention to attend. Afterwards, we spent some long-awaited time with our adopted family, the O'dells, who took us on a grand tour of their home state. Here we are in Estes Park, shivering in the sunshine:

Mountains, Gandalf!

Mountains, Gandalf!

We drove southwest through some incredible mountain passes, winding up in Durango, where we took a day trip to Mesa Verde National Park to see cliff dwellings that were over a thousand years old.

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Then, on what became the highlight of our trip, we boarded an old-fashioned narrow-gauge train that took us over rivers, through woods and to the tiny mining town of Silverton. We had coal dust in our hair and wind burns on our faces, but it was the most fun I've had in a long time!

I think we can, I think we can . . .

I think we can, I think we can . . .

We were home for just a week when I had to dash off to the Sacred Music Institute at Antiochian Village, where I gave a few classes, including this talk about the experience of Orthodox Holy Week. Meanwhile, Rob was off to Paris, leading another study tour of chateaus and museums with a group of young architectural hopefuls.

Fountains at Chateau Sceaux

Fountains at Chateau Sceaux

This was a very different trip in a number of ways: I missed the first few days because of my conference, but met up in time to help the group navigate out of the city to half a dozen different chateaux of the Loire Valley. Unfortunately, I also picked up a nasty bug somewhere in our travels, but I rested when I could and still managed to have a good time in and out of the city. One highlight was the discovery of the Promenade Plantee, an abandoned rail line that's been repurposed as an elevated greenway.

Viaduc des Arts, Paris

Viaduc des Arts, Paris

And when we got home, I finally finished my Paris Top 10 series, so you can read lots more there about what we've seen and done on our various trips there. But we didn't stay home for long -- just a few days, in fact, before flying the opposite direction to visit my grandmother on the West Coast, along with my family. Though we have visited this part of the country many times, we enjoyed several new experiences, including the canals at Venice Beach (freakish bodybuilders not pictured:)

California Dreamin'

California Dreamin'

And we carefully staged this photo in the Joshua Tree park, which may be the peak of this year's accomplishments.

Bonus points if you can name the first three tracks in order!

Bonus points if you can name the first three tracks in order!

Once home, we took a vacation from our vacations for a couple of weeks. We celebrated ten years of marriage in late August, but an overnight trip downtown was the furthest we wanted to go for awhile. These house numbers were Rob's gift (look, you try finding an interesting present made from iron!)

This bush is way out of control, but it makes a nice accent.

This bush is way out of control, but it makes a nice accent.

In September our parish celebrated twenty years of worshipping, serving and witnessing together. It was a glorious weekend, during which we sang more than we had thought possible: here we are during Vigil, which lasted nearly three hours. You can also see some of the incredible iconography that's been finished over the last year, as well as the iconographer's son, the sweetest little altar-boy-in-training I've ever seen. Less than a month after this photo was taken, two of our chanters left to join monasteries, so it's a bittersweet memory. Glory to God for all of our time together and the music of our voices and hearts.

Go team!

Go team!

In everyday life, we both continue to enjoy the fruits of my labor at Yelp, an online ratings service where I am an Elite member and occasionally get perks like this one, a catered reception at the Museum of Science & Industry overlooking the Baltimore Harbor. 

Baltimore Harbor at Sunset

Baltimore Harbor at Sunset

He took a well-deserved break this semester, earning a sabbatical to research and teach at Morgan State University, where they're looking to develop a mobile app for site analysis. He also spent plenty of time with his two furry daughters, as well as with his new business venture, Appitecture, where he posts frequently. They are launching an extensive website on New Year's Day, so stay tuned for more interesting photos in his upcoming "Places and Perspectives" blog.

Rob's more relaxed schedule this fall brought us yet more opportunities to travel, including a quick trip to New York, where I had a writing seminar to attend and he enjoyed photographing the beautiful fall colors.

Reflecting Pool, Bard College

Reflecting Pool, Bard College

We visited some friends in the city on the way home. They were wonderful hosts and we had a great time eating and catching up with them. As a bonus, their apartment is walking distance from the Cloisters, my favorite Manhattan museum. It's nestled in Fort Tryon Park where, it would seem, the spirit of Terrence Malick is lurking:

Merveille de l'automne, Fort Tryon Park

Merveille de l'automne, Fort Tryon Park

And just when it looked like the year was winding down, we took our most ambitious and exotic trip to date. For two weeks in November and December, we traveled with our best friends through Turkey, Georgia and Armenia on a pilgrimage to visit holy sites in a part of the world that has known Christianity from its earliest days.

Constantinople. Not Istanbul.

Constantinople. Not Istanbul.

Our time in Istanbul was basically a series of mini-catastrophes, but once we landed in Georgia, we felt truly welcomed and at home, thanks to the bend-over-backwards hospitality of our lovely friends David and Margo and their intrepid son Dietrich. For ten days they drove, fed, translated and guided us through some of the most incredible sights and stories we'd ever experienced. Having only returned a couple of weeks ago, I need more time to process everything before I can really write about it, but here are some snippets from the trip.

Much of Georgia's spiritual history is connected with Nino, a Cappadocian nun who evangelized the country in the fourth century. We visited several sites connected with her, including the monastery where she is buried. On the grounds there is a sacred spring that appeared, miraculously, when the nuns needed water (and then, just as miraculously, disappeared and reappeared in a hidden spot when the convent was under persecution by an invading army.)

Path at Bodbe Monastery

Path at Bodbe Monastery

It was nearly freezing the day we visited, but we went for a dip in the chilly water and prayed -- quickly! -- for a blessing before toweling off in the little stone house and putting all of our layers back on. When the boys were in the water, we heard Matt's voice through the tiny window: "Well, Rob, what do you think of this Orthodox thing now?"

Sioni Cathedral, Tbilisi

Sioni Cathedral, Tbilisi

Probably what we all thought, which was: the culture there is so steeped in faith, it is truly a marvel. It has endured centuries of persecution, first by the pagan Persians, then by the Muslims and most recently at the hands of the Communists. Its churches and monasteries have been burned, demolished, and demoted to hospitals and museums, but in the short period since its independence, the nation has already begun to transform itself.

Alaverdi Monastery

Alaverdi Monastery

As if that weren't enough of a trip, we also took a couple of days to drive south to Armenia, the land of my ancestors on my father's father's side. There we found another nation that has endured cruel and horrendous persecution, bordering on complete extermination, but that has emerged with a plucky and inspiring resolve to rebuild and transcend its own grief.

View from the Cascade Monument, Yerevan

View from the Cascade Monument, Yerevan

From high in the capital of Yerevan, you can see the outline of Mount Ararat, the national symbol of the country where Noah landed thousands of years ago. (Their patriarchate in Etchmiadzin contains a staggering number of relics, including wood from the ark -- given to a monk by a pitying angel after the poor man had tried and failed three times to climb the mountain in search of the holy site.) It's also a good spot for a photo, if you can get one without too much windblown hair:

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On our way out of the city, we received the gift of an early-morning snowstorm, meaning that by the time we reached the monastery on the banks of Lake Sevan, the roads were clear but the landscape was still a series of pristine, white undulations. In the chapel they were celebrating Divine Liturgy, and outside the world was holding its own celebration: "All the earth is Thy promised bride awaiting her spotless husband!"

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The entire trip felt like one enormous gasp, and in the weeks since returning home we have been slowly exhaling, hoping that the exhaustion will wear off but leave the spirituality behind. Please know that we did remember you, our family and friends, in prayer in those holy places, just as we do here in the quiet and comfort of our home. 

Tissue Paper = Cat Velcro.

Tissue Paper = Cat Velcro.

Snuggled up with a cat. As we are happiest.

We miss you, we love you and we hope to see you very soon!

Rob and Emily

Greatest Hits of Exam Week

In no particular order:

  • Odysseus had his men tie him to the mast so he could hear the beautiful song of the Syrians.
  • Jason's family may have tried to kill their own children, but Antigone's family was just weird.
  • The Cyclops said he would eat Odysseus last, after all the others. That was the polite thing to do in those days (not eat people but show them hospitality.)
  • All that suffering took a big token out of Thomas More.
  • Theseus saved all the Athenians from the Minotaur. Kind of like the Hunger Games.

Ma Merveille

Years ago, I saw The New World on the recommendation of a friend. Here's a taste:

It was my first Malick film, and as much as I was awed by its external transcendence, its deeper substance really burrowed into me. I rented it, watched it, went to bed, and when I arose the next morning after a mostly-sleepless night, sat down to watch the whole thing again. I have tried to write about it, but could hardly even think about it except in waves of images and isolated thoughts, never coherent enough to string together. Though this is grossly over-simplistic, I will say that it is a story about hurt and healing. Healing triumphs, but in a devastatingly pyrrhic victory -- old wounds remain latent, sabotaging the future with poison from the past. Watching it uncovered deep layers of unsettled feelings, pain I had either forgotten or chosen to ignore.

I always come late to the most interesting conversations, especially where my friend Rod is concerned -- he who can create a niche market, document a paradigm shift and defend a worldview in the time it takes me to have one slightly original thought. But, in light of the above experience, I am finding the need to add to the dialogue of his recent musings (starting here, and continuing here and here) about Malick's latest film. To the Wonder.

I watched this one alone on a whim, and I liked it; especially the priest, who is the central character regardless of screentime. It didn't have the same effect right away. Some days later, I discovered my whole family was miffed at me because they had wanted to see it too. So we watched it together, and after the second viewing, we all started to think and talk about it -- a conversation that continued for several weeks. 

There is literally no way I can spoil the plot, because there is no plot, other than the general arc of a couple who falls in love in Paris and then tries to make their relationship last back in the United States. The ending is ambiguous and has already provoked several arguments. But this movie is not about the plot; it's about the details. There are three I keep coming back to.

Kinesis: as The Times reviewer mentioned, the female lead is constantly in motion. She spins, chases, flings her arms wide to embrace the heavens, all to an introspective French voiceover that sounds as italic as its subtitles look. She is lovely, and Malick's camerawork is masterful; every shot is frameable, every scene a living poem. It's surprising, then, that it rings so hollow. My mother pointed out that all the leaping and tumbling left the characters with nothing solid to hold on to -- searching for ground, they came up with only air. (Their house, which remains huge and unfurnished, is another indicator of their empty lives.)

Nature: like every other Malick film, this one shows a profound respect for, and unabashed adoration of, the natural world. Trees, beaches, gardens and fields all get the same breathless reverence. But this time, there is more: through the story of a priest who struggles with eternal questions, Malick shows us that even his own masterpieces are worthless to the extent that they don't acknowledge their ultimate creator. The tongues of men and angels, which few would argue he has mastered on film, are merely noise next to a heart of faith and a hand of mercy.

Place: A picture is worth a thousand words, and there are thousands of pictures in a film, so it stands to reason that there should be very little explanation necessary. Mercifully, Malick lets his shots speak for themselves. America is sun-kissed grass, Paris rain-dampened cobblestone. The Sonic drive-in glows just as the shimmering beaches of Mont-Saint-Michel do -- one wholesome, one exotic, both glorious. I was actually a little disappointed when I realized that La Merveille, The Wonder, is a physical place; I had first read that line as a metaphysical statement, about the power of love to transform a quotidian hour into an ethereal one.

It's this last idea that has stuck with me most since I saw the film. Without even meaning to, I often imagine my own life as Terrence Malick might see it. Entering my hushed classroom in the early morning, slowly raising the shades and looking out to the glorious fog-drenched expanse of trees below. Scattering grain to a feathery patchwork of black and gold. Standing in a darkened church, sweet harmony mingling with the dissonant cries of children. Entering the pantry to the pillowy-sweet scent of fresh apples, letting them cook in butter until the sugar runs a sticky amber. Climbing between clean, soft flannel sheets and yielding to the stillness of sleep.

Each day is full of moments like this. Sometimes I see them, and just as often I let them slip by unnoticed. But thanks to the magic of my own personal merveille, awakened by this lovely film, they are always there.