In 1538, a baby boy was born on the plains
in Spain in the town of Mallorca in a village called Mogrovejo. His
parents said, “Let’s call him Toribio.”
Toribio became a lively boy. He
made many friends because he liked to be with others. He played games with his
friends.And when Toribio played he was
always fair. He never cheated. In school, he studied hard.
When he grew up, he became a lawyer.
It was a time when many harsh people were in power, both in government and even
in the church. Men and women were imprisoned, tortured and even burned alive.
It was called the time of the Inquisition.
Everybody was glad when Toribio,
the lawyer, was appointed a judge, because he was known as just, and fair, and
Then, one day, King Philip II,
Prince of the Asturias, ruler of all Spain in Europe and in the
Americas.received the bad news that things were bad in the colonies.
King Philip said, “I need someone
to set things straight.”He looked about
and saw how people trusted Toribio.
King Philip sent a notice to the
Pope. “I want Toribio made a bishop.” In those days Kings could tell the Pope
who they wanted as a bishop.
The Pope made Toribio a bishop.
Then, King Philip II named Toribio, Archbishop of Lima, Peru, and of all the
King’s colonies from Ecuador to Argentina!
Imagine how Toribio felt.He had to do as the King and the Pope
asked.He had to leave his home, his
family, and his work.
And very soon, he found himself
on a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean.There was no Panama Canal I those days, so he had to travel overland to
cross the continent, then sail again in the Pacific Ocean.
When, at last, he arrived, all
the King’s agents welcomed him. Everyone wanted to be near Toribio, a friend of
the King and the Pope.
Some were afraid, because Toribio
had served as a judge of the terrifying Inquisition, but Toribio had been a
good inquisitor who saved many people from unjust treatment.
The viceroy, the King’s number
one man, expected Toribio to settle all his difficulties. Toribio did what he
could for the Viceroy, but he remembered that he was the archbishop of all the
people from Ecuador to Argentina.
One day, Toribio set out to visit
everyone. He climbed mountains. He walked through valleys. He crossed rivers
and rode horses. He rode mules, and he also walked and walked and walked. He
visited all the King’s Colonies. He visited what we now call Ecuador, Colombia,
Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. He may have passed through Paraguay, too. He
visited, not once, but twice in many places.
Spanish military, church and
civil authorities who were unjust, greedy, or cruel, trembled when Toribio
visited their towns and villages. They were afraid, because Toribio talked to
everyone and went everywhere. And Toribio saw that, in many places, the native
peoples were treated badly by the Spaniards.
Toribio thought about the way
people were treated. It made him sad, and he decided to do something about it.
First, he ordered his priests to
treat everyone with respect, Spaniards and Native Peoples alike. He ordered
them to show special kindness, and to share whatever they had with the poor. He
insisted that priests were to live holy lives according to the teachings of
To make certain the priests
understood, he called them all to a great meeting, called The Second Synod of
Lima where he spoke to them about all the things they were to do.
People didn’t have two cars in those days, but
some had two mules. Toribio said if a priest needed a mule, he was to have only
one. If he had two, he was to give it away or sell it to help the poor.Everyone must be kind and help the poor, he
Toribio founded a seminary to
train priests the way he wanted them to be. Almost 450 years later, he is still
remembered. The Seminary in Lima, Peru is named for him.
Toribio was not satisfied with telling
the priests to be kind. He wanted the people to know what Jesus taught. In
those days to print anything, it was necessary to have permission from the
King. The King was far away in Spain.
Toribio was a lawyer. He knew the
law, but he didn’t wait for any permission. He printed the first catechism in
the New World. And he printed it in three languages, Spanish, Quechua and
Aymara. The latter are two of the languages of the Native Peoples of Peru.
Toribio insisted so much on the
rights of native peoples that he became known as the Defender of The
Indigenous. Indigenous means native. Indigenous people are the people native to
an area or a country, the first people to live there.
Toribio was so good and kind,
that the Catholic Church calls him a Saint. So, if you are ever treated
unfairly, remember Toribio, the good lawyer, and insist on fair treatment for
yourself and everyone else.
The feast of St. Toribio is celebrated on March 23.
Nobody wants to waste time. Some save time. Others buy time. Some kill
Older people will tell you time
flies.Others say, time is money. Teenagers
find time hangs heavy on their hands.What
is time? Do you ever wonder how people came to say such strange things about
Astronomers, physicists, and many
others have been trying to solve the mystery of time for thousands of
years.Astronomers study the stars.
Physicists want to know how and when time began. Accurate timekeeping is
important for everyone from athletes to heart surgeons.
Twenty-thousand years ago, when no
one had ever heard of minutes, hours or seconds, people noticed that the sun
came up every day and the moon every night. They scratched lines and made
little holes on wood and even on bones to keep track of time. They were the
first time detectives gathering evidence.
Five thousand years ago Sumerians
were a people who lived in what is present day Iraq. They watched the sun, the
moon and the stars. From their studies they made a calendar with thirty-day
months. Instead of twenty-four hour days, they divided the daylight into twelve
Later, in Egypt, other people
noticed a special star. It appeared every year, when the Nile River began to
overflow and flood their land.They
invented a calendar with 365 days. The year they did that is called the first
year of recorded history. Today we call that 4326 B.C.
Egyptians around 3500 B.C. built
four-sided, tall, slender posts that tapered to a point at the top. We call
these obelisks. The Egyptians watched the shadows their obelisks cast. The
shadow moved from one side of the obelisk to the other as the day went on. Time
detectives had discovered noon. At one time of year, the shadow was longer. At
another time, the shadow was shorter. That longest shadow fell on the shortest
day.The shortest shadow fell on the
By the year 2000 B.C. the Sumerians
and their culture had disappeared. Babylonians then living in Iraq knew nothing
of the Sumerian inventions. They didn’t know about the thirty-day months the
Sumerians had developed. So, the Babylonians divided the year into twelve
alternating months. One month had 29 days and the next one had 30 days. Their
calendar had 354 days.
Even before the Babylonians made
their calendar, the Mayan people, in Central America, were watching Venus, the
morning star. They had two different systems for measuring a year. For some,
the year had 260 days. For others, a year had 365 days. Mayans kept detailed
records of their studies. They came to believe that time began in the year 3113
B.C.Eventually, their time studies
became part of the Aztec System. The Aztecs became famous as time detectives.
They recorded important events on large stones.Some of these stones still exist.
Having a calendar helped a lot.
Farmers could predict the times of the year when certain crops should be
planted. Celebrations could be scheduled, and plans could be made for special
occasions during the year.
Soon people also wanted to plan their day as
well as the year. So, they invented sundials. Egyptians probably made the first
one.It was made of a bar of wood or
stone with a slightly higher crossbar at one end. The higher crossbar cast a shadow
on the lower, longer bar.
Time detectives marked the places
where the sun’s shadow fell for each hour, and even the minutes. Some sundials
were very elegantly carved in stone. Even today sundials are used in many
places.They come in all shapes and
A sundial has two main parts. The
face and the gnomon. The face is the flat part. The gnomon is the element that
casts the shadow. To correctly tell the time, the gnomon has to point to the
North Pole, or in the Southern Hemisphere to the South Pole.
Some sundials are huge and built in
town squares. Others can be seen on the walls of buildings. A famous one in
Milan has the form of a ship.
In Frankfort, Kentucky, a sundial
honors the veterans from Kentucky who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.It is built so that, the shadow falls on the
name and date of each war hero’sanniversary of death. Located in a plaza that overlooks the State
Capitol, it also tells time and serves as a huge solar calendar.
Over the centuries, time detectives
worked hard to calculate the correct time.Eventually,they invented clocks.
They tried water clocks, and. mechanical clocks with pendulums. Today we have
quartz, computer chip, and even atomic clocks.
. For centuries, time was measured
according to the earth’s movements around the sun, but clocks always had to be
corrected. The “detectives” found the clocks could be slightly ahead or behind the
sun’s time.This is because the earth’s
axis is slightly tilted and our planet follows an ellipticalroute around the sun. Today, international
agreements determine what time it is all over the world
Atomic clocks give us a very
precise time. They depend on the natural frequency of the Cesium atom. Time
detectives at the U.S. Naval Observatory say atomic clocks are still off by one
millionth of a second per year.
Physicists have discovered many
things about time. The Big Bang Theory tells us that the world is about 14
billion years old. But is that when time began?
The earth continues to twirl
through the heavens. Astronomers discover black holes, new particles, and many
other wonderful aspects of our world. Physicists
calculate their meaning; geologists examine the earth, and astronauts take
photos. Yet, time still holds many mysteries! Do you think about time?What is it for? Do you like time to yourself?
Do you spend time with others? How do you use time?
To learn more about sundials: Look for the North American
Sundial Society on the Internet.
You will find a list of sundials in most USA States and some
other countries, too.
Good King Wencelaus
was a kind and generous nobleman in Bohemia
more than a thousand years ago.He went
out of his way to help the poor people on his lands. He was so good that people
felt happy just to see him. They came to believe that just being near him was a
On the day after
Christmas, the feast of St. Stephen, Good King Wenceslaus looked out his
window.He sawa poor servant walking home in a blizzard.
Good King Wenceslaus called
a servant and asked him to gather food and firewood. The King wanted to go to the poor man’s house to
help him. He wanted the poor man to have food and a warm house.
Good King Wenceslaus
set out in the snow.The servant walked
behind him.When the servant felt the
cold and it was hard to walk in the blizzard.He said, “Good King, I cannot go on.” If the servant turned back alone, he would
get lost in the blizzard.
Good King Wencelaus encouraged
him saying, “I will make the path. Try stepping in my footsteps.”
As he walked in the
footsteps of Good King Wenceslaus, the servant felt warm again. Together, the
King and the servant trudged on through the blizzard. Later, the servant told
everyone about how even in a blizzard, he felt warm near Good King Wencelaus.
That is why a famous
Christmas Carol begins with the words, “Good King Wenceslaus, on the feast of
Stephen, . . ”
The lyrics were
written byJohn Mason Neale, but the
tune was found in an ancient Finnish Hymn Book.
Many eons ago, peoplesat around a fire on a cold winter nights. They
listened to a story. On summer evenings they did the same. On lakeside, beach,
mountain, desertor river bank, it
didn’t matter. Stories were remembered, invented, created. Young and old
People have gathered to hear stories for
thousands of years. The first
storytellers had only their voices, their memories, and their imagination, but
their stories were cherished, remembered and passed on.Stories were told before pencils, books,
television, radio, computers, tablets or cell phones were even imagined.
. The Story
Teller was a special person in the community. His or her task was not only to
entertain, but to answer big questions. Humans have always had big questions to
about the big fireball in the sky. Why did it appear every day and go away
every night?They watched that other
light, too. They wondered why that big silver light came in the night. Why did
it come sometimes as a silver crescent, and other times as a complete round disk?
people wondered about mysterious events in their lives, they hoped the
storyteller would help them understand it.
Tellers were special. They had to remember every detail of the story and be
able to invent new stories. To be a story teller was a special calling.
went on, story tellers, discovered they could draw their stories on the walls
of caves. Later, people who wanted to remember stories made paper from papyrus.
Papyrus was a plant with fibers that could be woven together. Story tellers
learned to use thorns, and tips of feathers to write on paper with vegetable
tellers used clay tablets. Papyrus and clay tablets could be carried and shared
with others.Stories were passed on for
hundreds of years in this way.
1440, a German man, named Johannes Gutenberg, invented a machine that printed
letters on paper. The first dated book known had been printed in China, but
Gutenberg’sPress launched modern
printing. Stories were available for reading by many, many people. More and
more people learned not only to tell stories, but to read then, too.
radio and television brought stories to even more people.
have computers, tablets, cell phones and many varieties of these. Many more
people have access to stories.
Now we know
many facts about that fireball, the sun, and the night light, we call the moon.
But there are still many big questions which scientists still wonder about. Story
tellers still try to answer them.In fact,
some of our modern inventions were first spoken of by story tellers and then
invented by others who thought about the ideas of the story tellers.
Vinci, a famous artist, in the 1480’s, watched how birds flew. He thought there
was a way for people to fly. He put his thoughts and drawings in notebooks
which are still read today.
Chester Greenwood, a 13-year old
boy in Farmington, Maine, thought about how cold his ears got while he ice
skated. He made little ear covers for his ears. At first, his friends laughed
at him. Then, they noticed that, he played outside long after their cold ears
sent them inside. Later, Chester obtained a patent and made his fortune on ear
Many people tell stories today.
Sports announcers tell us the stories of games and athletes. News reporters
tell us stories of what is happening in our world.
Authors and writers create stories to
entertain us. These stories are called fiction.
Stories can be about things that
are going on right now or that have happened in the past. When the story is
about one of these events or people, or things, they are called Nonfiction.
While fiction may not mention the
name or tell the details of an event as it happened, fiction often tells us
very important truths.For example, if
you want to read a story about how life actually was when Charles Dickens, a
great writer, was alive, read A Christmas Carol, or David Copperfield.Mr. Dickens lived then. Terrible things happened
to poor people. He might have gotten into trouble, been put in jail or even put
to death if he gave the names and addresses of people who were responsible for
the awful things that happened.Instead
he created fiction stories. Everybody understood what he was writing, even
though he did not mention actual names and addresses.
In the United States of America we
are very fortunate because we have freedom of the press. Mr. Gutenberg made the
first “press.”Since then there have
been many new kinds of printing presses. However, when we refer to the freedom
to write, we call it freedom of the press. That is any type of written material
that anyone distributes.
If the story, news report or
whatever is spoken, then the person is exercising freedom of speech, too.
These rights are very important.
What is said to be nonfiction must be factually true. We cannot use our freedom
of speech to lie about anyone, or misrepresent what has happened.
Fiction writers can create a story
about actual events, but they may not name actual people or cite events,
actions, or situations. They have to change names, addresses, and sometimes
even the event.Nevertheless, they can
tell the story, just as Mr. Dickens and many other authors have by creating
names, places, events.
My book SECRET MELODY is an example
of fiction based on actual events. I could create the story because it
is well known that people are fleeing from terrorists, that child immigrants
are being brought across borders, I told the story of a boy and girl who were
separated from their parents by terrorists, how it happened and what happened
to them. I did not name the terrorists. The children had fictional names. Their
adventures were described without giving names of actual people.
I like being a storyteller.Storytelling continues today as it began eons
ago. Let’s create stories that will entertain and inspire others on cold winter
nights and on warm summer days. Stories can delight us, cheer us up when we are
sad, and help us think about this wonderful world. Write a story today!
Kamau wanted to be a long distance
runner. He lived in the Kenyan Desert near the city of Bura and he practiced
running every day.His friend, Abiria, often ran with him.One day, as they were on their way to school,
Kamau said, “I saw the new teacher. He looks mean, and he is missing one leg.”
Abiria’s eyes opened wide. His
mouth was wide open too. “How will he teach us Physical Education without a
leg,” he asked.
Kamau shrugged. “I don’t know, but
we are scheduled for his first class.” The bell rang as the two boys stepped
into the school yard. They hurried to get in line where the new teacher stood.
“Straighten your line,” the new
teacher barked in a loud voice. “March,” he bellowed.
Kamau marched tall and confident.
He was the best marcher in the school. Abiria trembled, but tried to keep in
step with Kamau. When they got to the field for exercise, the new teacher,
“I am your new teacher. You will call me Mr.Johnson. Yes, I have a prosthesis
for my right leg. I have learned to use it for many things.So, don’t try anything.”
After class, Abiria said, “Wow,
Kamau! How did he get us to do all those stunts with one leg!”
Kamau made a face. ‘He scowls at
us. Why can’t he be jolly and laugh once in a while.”
“I don’t know,” Abiria said.“Maybe the leg hurts.”
Next day, Kamau asked the teacher
a question about the exercises? “Sir,” he asked. “Why are we doing this
exercise first?The other teacher did
this one after we practiced running.”
“I am not the other teacher. We
will do it this way,” Mr. Johnson said. Kamau saw the teacher was string t him
and waiting for something. Kamau stood still. The whole class was quiet. Mr
Johnson stared at Kamau.
Then, Mr. Johnson barked, “Yes,
Kamau mumbled, “Yes, Sir.”
“Speak up,”Mr. Johnson barked at Kamau.
Kamau shouted, “Yes, Sir.” Mr.
Johnson continued the class.
On the way home from school, Kamau
complained to his friend. “Abiria, I don’t like that teacher.”
When he reached home, Kamau
announced, “Papa, I am not going to Physical Education class.”
“Yes, you are, Kamau,” his father
“But I don’t want to go while that
new teacher is here. He only has one leg and he’s mean.” Kamau pouted.
His father said, “Kamau, that is
not an intelligent decision. You need to learn the skills of Physical
Education.You don’t hurt the teacher by
skipping class. You hurt yourself.”
Kamau said, “I don’t like him!”
“Kamau, everyone likes to be
liked.Like him and you will see he will
like you.Do you know how he lost his
‘No, and I don’t care,” Kamau
said. But next day, Kamau decided to see if what his father said was true.
During recess Kamau walked over to
Mr. Johnson who stood alone near the school door. Kamau swallowed and tried to
keep his voice steady as he asked, “Sir, How did you lose your leg?”
“It is a long story, young man. I
wanted to be a runner. I did not have a teacher and I ran on a highway.I got hit by a car. Thank you for asking. You
are brave to ask,” the teacher said. He smiled at Kamau.
Kamau got all flustered. He said,
“Yes, Sir.” And ran back to where Abiria waited for him.
“What happened?” Abiria asked.
“He was nice. He didn’t yell,”
“But what did he SAY?” Abiria
“He got it running. He was running
like I do, on the highway,” Kamau said.
Next day, the teacher asked, “Who
wants to be a runner?”
Kamau and four other boys raised
their hands.Mr. Johnson said, “Meet me
After school, Mr. Johnson gave the
boys tips on what would help them to run faster. He taught them how to breathe
effectively, when to stop, and how much water to drink/.
Each day after school, Kamau and
his friends ran. They practiced hard. Mr. Johnson selected Kamau and Abiria to
run in the District Competition.
They practiced everyday. They
could not wait for the day to arrive. “Tomorrow we run,” Abiria said to Kamau
on the eve of the District Competition.”
Kamau said, “Yes, and my father is
going to take us there.”Kamau could
hardly sleep that night with excitement. In the morning, he jumped up, ready to
go to the competition., but his father was very sick. He seemed to have some
acute pain in his right side.
Kamau, s mother said, ‘I am sorry,
but you must stay here to care for your little brothers. I must take your
father to the hospital. “
When Abiria arrived to travel to
the District Competition, Kamau told him to go to the school. He could travel
to the competition with Mr. Johnson and the other boys.Abiria was very sad. He did not want to go
Kamau insisted and Abiria went off
Kamau held back his tears until
his parents had gone to the hospital. He sent his little brothers out to play.
Then, he sat in the doorway watching them. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He did
not weep about not going to the competition.His fear was much deeper.How
could he go on without his father?
When his mother returned, she said
his father would stay in the hospital for a while, but he was going to
recover.“Kamau,” his mother said. “Your
father has pain, but he seems even sadder that you had to miss the competition
because of him.”
Kamau swallowed hard. He said, “Mama,”,
“There will be other competitions. Papa is more important that a race.”
Kamau’s mother patted him on the
head. “Your father will be happy to hear that you said that.”
Next day, Kamau went to class. Mr.
Johnson announced to the whole school that Abiria had done very well in the
competition.“We must practice now for
the National Competition,” he said.
Abiria whispered to Kamau, “I
would not have won, if you had been there. Practice, you can win the National.Kamau slapped Abiria on the back. You are a good runner, Abiria, and YOU
won, but thank you for being such a good friend, too.
The boys continued to run after
school. Mr. Johnson coached them. They won many competitions, and their
friendship endured.When they finished
school, Kamau went on to join and win many races. Abiria became a doctor,
specializing in Sports Medicine. When Kamau competed in a race, Abiria was
always there to cheer for him. Abiria married first. He named his first child
Kamau. When Kamau married he named his first child Abiria. Mr Johnson was
godfather for both children.