Most importantly our writing group supported my need "to nurture my soul." I don't use the phrase with any theological precision but rather to refer to the inward work that we need to do. I found it best to share writings that may not be publishable but which are an on-going healing work for me.

Deborah suggested that our work connects with the theme of "Witnessing through Scholarship." Part of that work for me is in doing small writings along with my students. These small writings are much like messages received and given in a Quaker meeting for worship.

Responding to David's, Barbara's, Deborah's, and Anne's writings was rewarding in itself for me. Responding gave me a glimpse into their lives and work. I liked the feeling that my small suggestions might be helpful.

Anne invited me to post part of a response to a Letter to Descartes on the Bryn Mawr website. Part of that response reads, In several of our campus forums, I have spoken up to protest the mode of discourse that is all white-maleness and trusting in traditional logic (and which seems so obviously inadequate to me that I can't believe we are not more self-conscious about it). A friend I like a lot who is an art historian tells me that English professors drive her crazy when they talk about art because she objects to our discourse. I am interested in our inadequacies in that realm of discourse.

I shared with the group a poem about my experience at West Point, where I received my bachelor's degree in a previous life-time, and I shared several small writings that I wrote along with my students. I include sample responses.

I am, after all, interested in making the small writings suitable for publishing, but, as Barbara's comment indicates, that will require revision for audience considerations.

My on-going work is partly emotional repair work. While on a trip to India, in May '05, I got more clarity about the need for this work. A friend in Roanoke has an auto-body shop called Roanoke Wreck Repair. I am adopting this theme, partly to avoid taking myself too seriously. I am doing Roanoke Wreck Repair. Part of the joke is that I may never be able to fix this wreck. It may be totaled. I may need to learn to drive a psychological jalopy with dented sides and the bumpers falling off.

The idea of "nurturing my soul" seems like an important governing principle for my teaching. I want my students to be more contemplative, doing more of what they need to nurture their souls. Of course, good teaching accounts for the fact that I don't presume to know what that work is for another person. But when I create an assignment, it seems like a reasonable question to ask whether this work feels as if it might nurture our souls. When we plan activities on our campus, or I decide whether to participate in a college activity, I might ask the same question: will this nurture my soul?