I taught English from the 7th through the 12th grades, and the most beautiful story I taught was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline, the story of her search for her betrothed Gabriel, during the displacement of the Acadians of Nova Scotia, a few years before the American Revolution.  Her finding him in a Philadelphia hospital during a pandemic did not hit me as hard when I was  young and taught it, but that hospital might as well have been an old-age home, I realize now. 

Gabriel had been struck by the virus, and he breathed his last in her arms.  It might as well have been then, because she was now a dedicated Sister of Mercy, no longer free to marry him.  The pathos of that simple love story far outdid Macbeth, which I taught in ninth or twelfth grade.

You can’t make this stuff up.  Real life, where people act out their thoughts, and are helped by God in ways they know not, of course upstages Longfellow’s story, which was nevertheless based on fact.  How good to live real life.

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