In a season colored by my impatience with job and debt, and frustration with the quick passing of the nano seconds between receiving my paycheck and applying it to digging out from under, I take time every day to give thanks for our blessings. There are many, but let me describe the unfolding of one of those blessings.
It has been another long day. Exhausted from work I walk past five houses to get to the mailbox. I get out my key and open the box and discover bills, requests for donations, a couple sales things, and one other thing: a handwritten, friendly, letter. It is that lovely surprise, unexpected and delightful, that changes everything. It has several immediate effects: it puts a smile on my face and my pace quickens as I head for home so that I can open it.
Everything is changed. All my life I have adored writing and receiving letters. They are different from everything else. Written on paper or cards, type written or written by hand, the ink may be dipped carefully from an inkwell or dashed off with a ballpoint. They are treasures – many of which I keep.
These days I correspond with a slew of people by snail mail. New and long lost friends, they are of every kind of stripe. Some are hurting and need to know someone is thinking about them. Some are of from a very different background from me and we write and exchange our thoughts about issues political and cultural. Some are friends with whom I exchange news, plans, dreams and aspirations. Some are very special, dear friends, with whom the letter writing exchange is of special moment.
Some letters are decorated with drawings, or bring a photo with them. They are slower than the Internet – interesting about that. Sometimes there is a blessing in not being instantaneous. Letter writing turns your focus to someone else. Receiving letters lets you know someone else is thinking about you.
At my lowest point in life I took to writing one friendly letter every night before going to sleep. It was a blessing to me and the blessing came back to me when I received a letter in return. When my mom was in the last years of her life, I would write her every day – just to keep something in her mailbox at the nursing home across country. I corresponded with a suitor across country for nearly a year, not only with letters but with personalized questionnaires that were fun and informative. Now that suitor is my husband. I still treasure letters that I have saved for a lifetime, and the handwriting I would recognize in a heartbeat.
I dare you. Be counter cultural. Be a rebel. Turn away from your to-do list. Forget about your smart phone, the laptop, the tablet. Turn off the TV. Pull out some writing paper and a favorite pen, and start writing letters. Who to write? You’ll think of someone!
Who will take up my dare?