Thank your lucky stars

Webster describes a star as a celestial body with twinkling points of light. The wise men of old followed a star to the baby Jesus. Centuries ago, sailors learned to navigate themselves around the world by the stars.

Today, many look at people who have reached a certain status in their field such as stars of sports, film or music.

Do we look at these people as twinkling points of light? I imagine some do. Many stars use their celebrity to accomplish great works of charity.

The late Danny Thomas and his St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is a wonderful example. Now, many years after Mr. Thomas left us, his work lives on in the children they help each and every day.

I have been blessed to know many stars in my life. People who I have admired. People who have been guides to me in the darkest of night, or the brightest of day.

First and foremost, one of the greatest stars I have ever come to know is Jesus. His light has led millions now for 2000 years. For this Georgia boy, he is always there to lean on, or to guide me through whatever comes my way.

My parents were stars to me. No matter what they faced, the Great Depression, war, meeting the needs of my brothers and I, they were always there doing what had to be done. They were the best parents
they knew how to be. They gave us love, support and guidance to the best of their abilities. While this does not sound unusual in the scheme of things, when you look at what is happening today with so many parents not fulfilling their parental responsibilities, my parents are truly stars. If yours are too, take a moment and let them know.

Many teachers were stars to me. At any given point in my schooling, I can find one teacher who stood out in giving me more than what was required. They would make whatever I wanted seem important. No matter how dumb the question was, they made it seem intelligent. One teacher in particular, because of his love of music, changed the direction of my life. Dr. Donald Grisier brought the fiddle into my life and set the stage for God to open so many doors.

My first employer, Joe Wyche, ran the local Dairy Queen near where I grew up outside Atlanta. He and the managers, David and Ed, gave me a chance to earn a little money. I was able to learn responsibility and how to deal with customers. There were so many other lessons. Thanks to their guidance, I soon became one of the youngest managers in the Dairy Queen system. But before that I could make the best cone curl in the business. All the people I worked with there were stars to me.

Now I have mentioned parents, teachers and a restaurateur as being stars. Now I’ll mention a couple of people who you may consider to be
popular stars.

When I was still in my teens, Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass
music, took interest in this young fiddler. He spent many hours sharing his music with me. When an opening came available in his band, he asked me to join. But since I was in school, my time with
the band was limited. But my friendship and my time as one of his students never ended until God gave him his final curtain call. He and his music is a light for millions around the world, but for me, he was my guide, my teacher, and my friend. He was truly a star to me.

Carroll O’Connor, TV’s “Archie Bunker” and “Chief Gillespie,” and Alan Autry, TV’s “Bubba,” both took an interest in me as a person and in my work. They took the time, along with many producers like Walt
Dornisch, directors like Peter Salim, Larry Hagman and Leo Penn and other actors to encourage me, teach me and give me opportunities to go where a boy from Georgia could not even imagine — on “In the Heat
of the Night.” These and so many others are stars to me from that period in my life.

So many stars touch our lives everyday. To me a star can be anyone who does what they do well. Then they share that God-given talent with others. They may be a good cook, a great mechanic, a successful salesperson, an inspiring clergyman, a visionary statesman or a cone-maker. They are all stars to me. Why don’t you take a look at the stars in your life? Let them know that your life is better because their light is shining on you. Is your light shining on those around you? If so, you can be a star too.