It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
Built in 1648, some twenty thousand workers spent twenty-two years constructing the glistening white edifice in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal stands 213 feet and is made entirely of white marble.
It was built by the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal at a cost of 32 million rupees ($750,000 in 1648!). It is quite possibly the world’s greatest physical symbol of love.
Symbols of love are big industry.
The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion Valentines Day cards are sent each year worldwide, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. When you consider that a card costs somewhere between $1 and $3 each that’s a $3 Billion dollar industry every February!
When we want to say, “I Love You” we give the cheap card, the box of gamble chocolates and a stale rose from the freezer in Wal-Mart. Our traditions pale in comparison to expressions of love that were common in days before Hershey’s Pot Of Gold.
It was the work of a Parisian painter named Marcel De Leclure. In 1875 he wrote a love letter to the object of his affection, Magdalene de Villalore. This love letter contained the phrase “I love you” written out 1,875,000 times; 1,000 times the calendar year.
Marcel De Leclure did not pen this letter with his own hand; he hired a scribe. He was so entranced with the sound of “I love you,” that he dictated it word for word and then had the hired man read it back to him word for word.
All-in-all, the phrase was uttered a total of 5,625,000 times before it reached its destination.
When I first read that I thought, “What a waste!” What a waste of time, money, energy and resources. Then I was forced to acknowledge that since the letter wasn’t written by me or to me I could not properly judge its worth.
Many have difficulty seeing the value in remembering or valuing the cross of Jesus Christ. It has become the symbol of a faith and representative of an individuals life. The cross was nothing if it was not a symbol of God’s love. It was a costly, extravagant expression of divine affection for mortal man.
Expressions of love have always been extravagant.
We write silly poems and promise the moon. We sing songs about swimming rivers and climbing mountains. We’ll spend money, lose sleep and work hard all for the expression of love because symbols of love don’t come cheap.
They never have.