Words are powerful. Using them well is a craft. Cadence, meaning, purpose. There’s no such thing as perfection. Mistakes are made. But the practice is thrilling.
In college I dumped Kinesiology, originally wanting to be a physical therapist, for a major in history. The subject came naturally, fascinating and fun. I enjoyed thinking, whittling my point of view and playing with words to breath life into my discoveries. .
At WSU I enjoyed an upper level Early Modern European history course. The enthusiastic professor was like none I had ever met. His passion was palpable, and I guess so was mine. Soon after turning in my first paper he asked me why I wasn’t in the honor’s college. I responded, “there’s an honor’s college?”
He offered his students time outside of class, personalized advice on organizing research, outlining arguments, editing, grammar. He challenged my assumptions. I’d never encountered a teacher so dedicated. He invited me to enroll in a private class sectioned out for his own honor and graduate students, all working on their thesis papers. For me he invented an assignment, a 25 page research paper of my own choosing. I was honored, and excited for the challenge.
Ultimately I had a hard time choosing a topic so Spohnholz asked if I would be interested in doing some research for him? There was an elusive historical figure that kept appearing in researching his own book. He wanted to know who this man was. I agreed that would be up to the challenge. I endeavored to find out more about this mysterious hermetic monk named Antonio del Corro. Through the use of primary documents I discovered he had fled the northern hills of his Spanish homeland to preach an ecumenical version of christianity in various northern European territories. My research suggested that Corro, during those years of hardening religious lines had built a following by preaching a more inclusive, less rigid, doctrine of christian values. This conclusion contradicted the major historical narrative taught in history books and contributed to my professor’s theory that acts of religious toleration was more prevalent during the European Early Modern period (1450-1600) than previously believed.
Our class only once a week to share our progress and give feedback. During this time my reading comprehension climbed, grammar cleaned up, syntax flowed, arguments became more focused. My writing changed forever. My research paper eventually contributed to my professor’s recently published book, The Convent of Wesel by Jesse Spohnholz.
Professor Spohnholz was Mr. Keating (of the Dead Poet’s Society) for me. His passion fueled my experience. I suffered symptoms from Bipolar Disorder throughout my work with him. He noticed I needed help. He and one other trusted professor gently suggested I visit the mental health clinic. I did.
While college brings back painful memories of depression, it was also the place my love for words bloomed. I also double majored in Spanish. Latin American language, literature and cinema also beautifully impacted my college mind.
Words are my ally in this life and I choose to share a message of hope. What will your verse be?
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