Archives for posts with tag: faith

Tonight was the second to last meeting of the semester for my literacy student and me. We’ve had quite the year. Despite a number of personal challenges for both of us, we’ve persevered, and seen some high points:

When B.R. and I began our work, assessment tests were a huge source of stress for him. Things are different these days. In the last month or two, he has taken three tests. He did so well on the first one, he had to take another. And again. He took the third test last week, on the Wednesday we would normally have had our class.

Tonight, in response to my questions about the test, he said, “It was hard, but it was fun.” (This from a man who was so distressed by our first test that we had to stop before it was finished.) We found one of the Literacy Center staff members to get his results. They were great.

When he came to the Center in 2011, B.R. was at level two. At the end of last year, he tested at level three. This year, he is at level FIVE.  B.R. was astonished that he had been able to remember everything we’d worked on. I was delighted to be able to say, again, “It’s in there. You’ve got this.”

B.R. received a computer tablet as an early Christmas gift. He will be starting computer classes at the Center in January.  He is as confident and optimistic as I have ever seen him.

On Wednesday, we will wrap up our current section, and talk about what is ahead for us next year. I think both of us are a little more certain that we will be ready to tackle what’s next.

The last several years have been particularly challenging, for reasons I’ve mentioned, and others we don’t need to worry about right now.

Despite that, and my natural default setting of “fret and ruminate,” I am inherently optimistic; as low as I sometimes feel, I can’t help but hope for the future.

Sometimes we get a boost just when we need one. Yesterday was one of those times.

My literacy student was the featured student speaker  at the Literacy Center’s annual fundraising breakfast, before an audience of more than 200 community leaders.  He was open and compelling, talking about his life and how learning to read was changing it. Afterward,  he was approached  by a number of people, who offered support and leads for jobs. He left with an application and list of open positions from the sponsoring venue.

It was our second breakfast as a team, and the realization of a goal set at the first:

On a smaller, more personal note, I noticed that for the first time, a sapling in my front yard seemed to be in bloom. This scrawny little thing appeared  under our real trees  several years ago. From the shape of its leaves and the look of its stem (it didn’t even really have bark yet) I hopefully guessed it was a dogwood tree. My belief had been unsupported by further evidence until yesterday, when I glimpsed the few spots of white among the leaves as I parked my car.

I looked and looked again. There they were: flowers with four petals, yellow centers. I stared. Took a photo. Back into the house and on Google Images I went. There is no doubt. It’s a dogwood. Blooming. I choose to take it as a sign.

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (

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wings and things