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One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary!
Thank goodness the couple I was marrying
escaped in time. I was caught. (Not quite as
light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was
thrown in jail and told that my punishment was
I tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what?
Wonderful things happened. Many young people
came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers
and notes up to my window. They wanted me to
know that they, too, believed in love.
One of these young people was the daughter of
the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit
me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk
for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up.
She agreed that I did the right thing by ignor-
ing the Emperor and going ahead with the secret
marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my
friend a little note thanking her for her friendship
and loyalty. I signed it, ¡°Love from your Valen-
I believe that note started the custom of ex-
changing love messages on Valentine¡¯s Day. It
was written on the day I died, February 14, 269
A.D. Now, every year on this day, people remem-
ber. But most importantly, they think about love
and friendship. And when they think of Emperor
Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand
in the way of love, and they laugh - because they
know that love can¡¯t be beaten!
Valentine Traditions
Hundreds of years ago in England, many children
dressed up as adults on Valentine¡¯s Day. They
went singing from home to home.
In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and
given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys
and keyholes were favorite decorations on the
spoons. The decoration meant, ¡°You unlock my
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew
names from a bowl to see who their valentines
would be. They would wear these names on their
sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your
sleeve now means that it is easy for other people
to know how you are feeling.
In some countries, a young woman may receive
a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps
the gift, it means she will marry him.
Some people used to believe that if a woman
saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine¡¯s Day,
it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a
sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be
very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would
marry a millionaire.
January Afternoon
The sun was shining last Sunday afternoon. Janu-
ary breezes were chilly. Dressing in heavy coats
and hats, we left the cabin far behind, heading
the jeep towards the back country.
Following dirt road, wrangler bounced over pro-
truding stones. Crossing a deep wash, the jeep
tilted sideways. I gasp as I had a white knuckle
hold on a grab bar. Husband dryly informed that
we would NOT tip over.
Parking at road¡¯s end, husband began his hike
across cedar scattered canyon floor, to distant
standing ancient blood red sandstone wall, with
boulders balanced against the sky at the sum-
mit. It is too far of a hike for me. I stepped out
into the warm sunshine. Leaning back against the
jeep, I close my eyes and listen.
A crow in flight called out ¡°caw, caw¡± shattering
the silence of everything.
I walk out my place on this earth, where the
deer, with their stiff legged gait, bound along
deer trails, rabbits play and old coyote mean-
ders. I watched a hawk circling, riding quiet wind
highway in the blue sky above this red land. Full
I walked on. Red grandmother spider was weav-
ing in brown bush, the afternoon sun shone
through her tapestry. From a far away place, the
wind came searching. I wonder if a long, long
time ago the air here was filled with the sounds
of gourds rattling, as early man chanted and
danced around the fire? Whispers. Ancient spirits.
It is how I feel about the land here.
Turning back, I stop to cut some rabbit brush to
add to my weed bouquet. Picking up a black and
white stone, I roll it around and around in my
hand as I walk. A piece of this sacred place. It
was a very good afternoon. I believe it will be a
very good new year.
Old Coyote
Up from the wash
old coyote came
silently padding
leaving tracks
upon mother earth.
Crow flew by
ebony wings dipped,
Little canyon wren
sings out tee, tee, tew, tew.
Wind comes searching
wraps around old coyote
tousleing grizzled grey hair.
Evening sun across
canyon floor
casts shadows. Old coyote pauses
then moves on through clump of cedars.
Old coyote remembers
Old coyote remembers.
(Karen Schafer lives in & writes about life from
Gateway, Colorado)
The Reading Room
2015 February
Pg 5 - The Sunshine Express
Treasures From The Inbox
I thought it was pre-
posterous! I certainly
wasn¡¯t going to sup-
port that law!
Did I mention that
I was a priest? One
of my favorite ac-
tivities was to marry
couples. Even after
Emperor Claudius
passed his law, I
kept on performing
marriage ceremonies,
secretly, of course. It
was really quite excit-
ing. Imagine a small
candlelit room with
only the bride and
groom and myself.
We would whisper the
words of the ceremo-
ny, listening all the
while for the steps of
It is easy to lose faith and see the worst in any
given situation and that, my friends, is just a
programming problem. We must reprogram
ourselves to focus on the positive and on keeping
our course true to ourselves.
Every road will have its bumps and its obstacles,
and overcoming those is the best part of be-
ing human. Small victories that add up to big
rewards and every step you take forward is one
step closer to your dreams.
I have a simple quote I read everyday that re-
minds me of what is important:
¡°Never cease to envision your dreams and aspira-
tions as they are what drives your desire to live
life to its fullest. You cannot fear the unknown
path as life is literally one step away from some-
thing unknown.¡±
Exploring life is something special and maybe we
should try it more often! ¨C By Mark Looper
May Love and Light always brighten your path!!!
(Mark Looper of The Pony Expresso shares
inspirational thoughts and lessons learned in life
from Dolores, CO.
If you get email, you
get stuff. Sometimes
it is spam, sometimes
it is a true gem.
Here is one of those
gems worth sharing:
¡°Love will find a way through paths
where wolves fear to prey.¡±
- Lord Byron
Unseen Energy
by Mark Looper
Positively Karen
One month into the new year and you feel like
your goals and aspirations are lost! This happens
to all of us. New Years resolutions, aka our worst
It is human nature to want everything at the
drop of a hat, when in fact, the only road to suc-
cess is hard work, determination and patience.
St. Valentine¡¯s Story
Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I
lived in Rome during the third century. That was
long, long ago! At that time, Rome was ruled by
an emperor named Claudius. I didn¡¯t like Em-
peror Claudius, and I wasn¡¯t the only one! A lot of
people shared my feelings.
Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected
men to volunteer to join. Many men just did
not want to fight in wars. They did not want to
leave their wives and families. As you might have
guessed, not many men signed up. This made
Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a
crazy idea. He thought that if men were not mar-
ried, they would not mind joining the army. So
Claudius decided not to allow any more marriag-
es. Young people thought his new law was cruel.