Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Value Of The Printed Word Story

Story title: The Value Of The Printed Word
By: Bert Balling

      The Russian writer Lev Kopelev had spent many years in prisons and labor camps. Once when he was washing some socks and handkerchiefs in the cellar of a prison, he found a half-burnt book in the garbage heap. It was a Breviary, the official prayer book of every Catholic priest and religious.
    Kopelov took the book to his prison cell and read it every night by the light of the security lights on the prison walls. As a Jew, he loved the Old Testament psalms that filled the book. But what fascinated him most were the "Our Father", the "Hail Mary", and the "Creed." In them he realized that he was repeating prayers which were almost two thousand years old, prayers which have been heard in Roman prisons, in the hurt of slaves, in the cathedrals of South America, in cloisters of monks and nuns, in castles and cathedrals and in his own hometown of Kiev.
     Kopelov says that he carried that Breviary around in his pocket and at night slipped in under his pillow. Those age old texts gave peace to Kopelov's soul. They lightened the burden of his prison days.
     Kopelov never gave away that Breviary. To him is symbolized the value of a book, the potential behind the printed word. 


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