|Sts. Hubert and Eustace, pray for us.|
|My signature card|
Fast-forward a couple of years to my first year as a teacher when I happened to be reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince over again. I had never been the kind of person who approved of writing in the margins of books or underlining quotes, etc., but I saw that the half-blood prince's marginalia were very real communications to a person in the future (Harry, in this case). I was inspired by the fact that anything I might write in a book might be read by someone else in the future for their edification or enjoyment. As it happened, the first book I actually wrote in was "Educating for Life", a rather anti-climactic first book to be writing in, but it was my first book nevertheless. I remember writing a response to one of the reflection questions in one of my assigned readings during my first year of teaching. The question was something along the lines of, "What does it mean to you to be an educator?" or something like that. I wrote, almost without thinking, "To Conquer Apathy." Later on, I went back and read my responses to all the reflection questions and I came across that answer again. I thought about how in education, a teacher must conquer the apathy of his students 1) so they will care about what they are learning and 2) so that they will care about the world and use their knowledge to fix it. I also realized that in order to be a more effective teacher, I must conquer the apathy within myself; I had to care about what I was teaching, and I had to care about who I was teaching. Then I broadened my idea about apathy to the world beyond teaching. I saw that many of the conflicts we encounter in our lives and in the wider world are sometimes caused (or at least are allowed to happen) simply because people do not care.
Okay, so what does this have to do with the Hoofprints of the Stag? I decided that if I was going to write in my books, that I should have some sort of message at the beginning of my books akin to "This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince." After much thought and many attempts and revisions (with some help from Ed, by the way), I came up with the statement written below. I suppose it seems silly, especially since it is much longer and more ridiculous than the HBP's message, but I felt it communicated what I wanted the future readers of books I'd owned to understand: that perhaps my comments or the quotes I'd underlined would awaken some feeling in them, that perhaps what they read, whether my words or the author's, might spur a change in some way in their mind or heart as they had in mine. I have written this preamble in every non-fiction book I have read (that I own) since I started writing in my books. This is what it says: