My dad was really smart, especially with numbers. That made him a really good card player, by the way, which, even if I had inherited those genes, would have done me no good as a Baptist minister. Anyway, he was good at math, but no good at spelling. Apparently the rural west Alabama town of his birth and schooling wasn’t big into spelling. Dad was successful in life and business, but couldn’t spell a lick.
I recently was asked to judge a Spelling Bee at Carrollton Middle School. The kids were amazing spellers; let’s just say that I’m glad I had the guide in front of me.
I thought about Hall of Fame quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, now turned broadcaster, who had a reputation when he came into the NFL, of being a dumb jock. The word on him was, he couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the c and t. Well, he won four Super Bowls, has had a successful broadcasting career, and I guess (di)spelled the dumb label.
All of which leads me to a conversation I had with our then, seven-year-old. Sheri or I would read to Natalie every night before bed. Correction, she read to us. It is amazing how quickly kids today learn to read, which is a tribute to our schools and to how much all kids are exposed to in print at an early age.
Anyway, as she was reading, she came across a word she didn’t know. She asked for my help, which is probably one of the last times that happened, given she is a female and was only six years away from being a teen. The word was aisle. Whoever invented the English language must have had a bad day when they decided on this word. I said to her, “That’s the word aisle.” To which I added, showing off my considerable learning and advanced degrees, “The s is silent.”
The look on her face was as if she was talking to Gomer Pyle. “Dad, so is the a and the e,” she said.
She was right, of course. Aisle is a five-letter word and three of the five letters are silent. What’s up with that? It could be spelled il. We could save a whole lot of letters, space, ink, and trees by spelling words how they sound. I think Mississippi is the biggest waste of letters since Tennessee, but nobody asked my opinion.
Those of us in the religion business should spell things out a little clearer. Obfuscation is our middle name. We hide behind big words that don’t mean a whole lot to the person in the pew, who just wants to be a better husband and father and make it through the next day. We throw around words like justification and sanctification, which though easy to spell, are hard to understand.
We talked a lot at Christmas about love. I can hide behind the pulpit, and preach about it, but when confronted on the sidewalks and streets of Carrollton with opportunities to do it, I often fail. I do know that showing love at Christmas seems easier than at any other time of the year. Why is that? Elvis sang “Why Can’t Every Day be like Christmas?” Why can’t the feelings of love for others that flood our hearts during December, continue in the month called January?
I don’t know if any of your New Year’s resolutions involved being more loving. Mine did. And so how am I doing? Not so well. I’m better at talking about it than doing it. But hey, I can spell it—luv.