Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sheri will only go to one college next fall

The elder teen said I should post this recommendation letter on my blog, so here it is:

Sirs and/or mesdames:

Let me begin by outlining Sheri's weaknesses; this section will be quite short. Sheri can't do multiple integrals in her head and doesn't intuitively understand why log a / log b = logb a. She doesn't always put things away, and occasionally makes a wrong turn while driving. She manages her time no better than her 50-something dad does; consequently she sometimes finds herself pressed for time as a deadline approaches. I would not use her as a packhorse on a backpacking trip. And she has an inflated estimate of my practical and intellectual capabilities. (I have no such illusions about hers.)

About her strengths: I hardly know where to begin. You've seen her grades and test scores; what you haven't seen, as I have, is her ability to see things more quickly than the rest of her family. When she went with me to see Superman Returns, she expressed her surprise at how much of a Christ-figure the hero was. Once she made the connection for me, it was obvious (his self-sacrifice and “resurrection”). Also a few years back, when she heard of N.T. Wright's then-new book, Simply Christian, it came to her immediately that the title was a ripoff of Lewis's Mere Christianity.

I love her passion for the visual arts, which took her on several summer programs and a semester at the Oxbow School. Sometimes at home she will put a canvas on her easel and spend hours creating, revising, refining.

Her desire to engage the world took her to the South on “Sojourn to the Past” and led her to co-sponsor (with her sister) a child in the developing world. We have had many conversations about what she wants to do with her life, how she can make a contribution, make a difference.

Sheri is no stranger to the performing arts. You should see her in action with the (K-5) Sunday school kids, where she leads songs and skits as a long-term regular volunteer. She is, in the words of the church staff, “a rock star.” She is also a terrific dancer, with a pile of medals and trophies from competitions.

Her intellectual curiosity is another of her strengths. She is better read at 17 than I was at 25, having read many articles from the Atlantic, nonfiction like Why We Buy and The Tipping Point, besides a bunch of literature that I don't track. None of this was for school, but for her own edification and entertainment.

What makes Sheri unique? It would have to be the combination of generous and compassionate engagement with her world, joyful and talented expressiveness, intellectual curiosity, and her ability to see things others miss.

No comments: