Archive for February 2014

No Unfinished Business

February 17, 2014

by Steven J. Callis

I read that the longest love letter ever written – and the simplest – was in 1875 from a painter named Marcel de Leclure to Magdalene de Villaore.  The letter contained the phrase “jevous aime” 1,875,000 times, or 1000 times the calendar years of the date.

Even more astounding is that he did not write the letter himself, but hired a scribe to do the work.  Let’s not be too quick to judge; he verbally dictated every word to the scribe as the letter was written, and then had the scribe read it back to him verbatim. The phrase, which means “I love you,” was written and spoken collectively 5,625,000 times before it ever reached its intended recipient.

For many people, Valentine’s Day demands creativity; seeking new and unique methods of saying, “I love you.”  While there are differing versions of the true origins of the holiday, I feel certain that it did not begin with the goal of retailers expecting to rack up about $650 million dollars selling food, candy, flowers, and other Valentine’s Day related goods.

On the positive side, this holiday reminds us that expressions of love and affection – both romantic love and friendship – are important in the sustenance of relationships.  The danger, however, is to relegate such expressions only to special occasions, which otherwise become lost in the daily routines of life.

Country music legend Garth Brooks may have been aware of that danger when he thought about his own relationships.  He pondered such questions as these:  “If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I loved her?  Did I try in every way to show her every day that she’s my only one?”

In other words, he did not want to risk going to sleep with unfinished or unresolved “business” in his life.  He could not bear to think of withholding words and expressions of affection from those who mean so much to him until it is too late to share them.  Every positive expression of love breathes life into the relationship and sustains it.

Now that the holiday has passed, let’s be more determined and deliberate to make every day Valentine’s Day. “So tell that someone that you love just what you’re thinking of…” (Brooks).

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The Stories We Tell

February 1, 2014

The Stories We Tell – By Steven J. Callis

We thought they were stories invented in the minds of our parents and grandparents, to help us realize how good life is today.  “Dad, I’m a senior in high school now, and I should not have to ride the bus to school.  Can I get a car?”  “Son, when I was your age I had to walk 2 miles to school in 3 feet of snow.”

In grandpa’s story, he made the same trek, but he was barefooted.  I did not know whether to believe those stories or not, but storytelling has been a gift handed down from generation to generation.  And 30 years from now the story will have changed somewhat, but it will be true:  “Son, back in 2014, I was stranded on the school bus overnight, in the middle of nowhere, in below freezing temperatures, and snow all over the ground!”

Our community is grateful especially to school teachers, administrators, school staff, and bus drivers who went above and beyond to keep our children safe.  Thank you!

I remember as a child asking my dad to tell me stories about when he was a boy.  Years later, my kids were asking me to tell them stories about when I was a boy.  Eventually, reruns were requested – –  “can you tell me the story about the time you…”

It is unlikely that a biography will be written about my life.  There will be no movie reels containing highlights and episodes of my glory days.  The sparse collection of awards and accolades will acknowledge a few accomplishments, but they will tell no stories.

However, the stories that were important enough to tell will live on in the hearts and minds of my children, along with the tales I related to them about my dad, and about my granddad.  Those stories would have little meaning to you, but they do matter to me; so they had to be told.

We all have stories to tell.  They may even be embellished a bit as we grow older and our memory of details fade.  But they are our stories, and they should be told.

In 1965, an epic film was released titled, “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” recounting the life of Jesus from birth to His Resurrection.  It is, indeed, a great story, but it becomes even greater (to me) when it includes the part about how He changed my life.  My children know the story, and now I have a granddaughter, and I can hardly wait to tell her my favorite story.