Kevlar and angora

At all times and in all circumstances, overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil. Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.
Mary Baker Eddy

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself drawn into a circumstance that threatened to rip open old wounds, even as it presented an opportunity to heal them permanently.

It wasn’t as excruciating as one might expect, but the situation was a little unsettling, so I handled it the way I handle everything else that presumes to threaten my happiness: I called a practitioner, dropped the problem in his lap, and went out for coffee.

Later that evening, as I checked my text messages from the comfort of a battered old chair in a fashionable late-night coffeehouse, it struck me that if peace could be experienced through the material senses, it would probably taste like a macchiato, sound like a familiar song floating through the espresso-scented air in a shabby-chic cafe, and look like a text message from a confidant whose steadfast support is made of something like Kevlar lined with angora.

That last thought buoyed me as I finished my coffee and my grading and stepped into the chilly autumn night, drawing my friend’s words around my shoulders for warmth and knowing beyond a doubt that I was, indeed, “clad in the panoply of Love.”



I never had Mrs. Scherer for English. She retired before I was old enough to take her class. But she is one of my idols. If I could, I’d fly her out to Tulsa and turn her loose on my kids for a couple of days. I imagine they’d learn more from her in two days than they’ll learn from me all year. She was that good.

One of her former students took a video camera to his class reunion. Thirty-five years later, all of those kids can still recite their helping verbs. Click here to behold the greatness.

Her methods obviously influenced the women who taught my junior-high English classes, because I can still recite all my linking verbs and all my prepositions, too. I’m about 17 years younger than the people in the video.

Incidentally, Mrs. Scherer’s late husband, Gus, was my grade-school principal. He was awesome. I think of him every time I silence a classroom full of noisy kids by raising one eyebrow and staring at them until they sense the awkwardness and settle down.