We have a friend, a very good friend, who keeps us supplied with first-class stamps. She knows how much we enjoy receiving and writing letters. Every one of her letters is a treasure trove filled with love and surprises. Most of her letters are hand-written. Her penmanship and mine are wobbly. Age has something to do with that. We both prefer a hand-written letter over a typed letter, but either are always heartily welcomed, including e-mail letters.
In 2005, after returning from Israel, I summed up my trip in a book titled: The Stone Table at Maagan. In chapter 14 of the book I included the below words about writing letters. After receiving the book of stamps from our good friend, I was prompted to read the chapter again and resurrect a portion of it for this epistle.
The book of stamps pictured here displays the “forget-me-not” flower, one that is chuck full of memories for me. The stamps and the flower prompted me to preamble the story with these words: “Don’t forget to write a letter to someone today who least expects to hear from you.” This writer would love to be included; and time and energy permitting, he will write back. At 82, he can no longer make a lot of promises. You can find his name and address as part of the banner of the website.
I go to the mailbox. It is bulging with catalogues, magazines, solicitations for money, bank statements, and bills. I go on a treasure hunt. Maybe hidden amongst the deluge of printed matter is a personal letter? I ignore all the other mail in favor of a note from friends and family. Should I find one, I often rip open the envelope on my way back to the house. My day has suddenly become extra special because someone remembered us and took the time to write. Christmas has come early for me when someone writes.
This scene repeats itself daily at mailboxes and post offices across America, even across the whole world. People are hungry, often desperate for that personal touch of intimacy conveyed through a letter. There are some letters that attempt to mimic a personal letter, but they fall short of accomplishing their objective. No computer, regardless of its sophistication, can or should attempt to write a generic letter and then pass it off as a heart to heart communication.. It violates the dignity of the individual.
Many have asked the question, “What can I do? What can I give that will express my heart to a friend or a lonely stranger?” We don’t have to look far or long for an answer if we are willing to include the writing of a letter in our repertoire of ideas. The cost of a letter is minimal—the price of a first-class stamp. Few people, therefore, will be able to squirm out of such a suggestion, especially since most of us have learned to read and write.
There is something special, something very unique about a letter that sets this gift apart from similar gifts such as phone calls, e-mail, faxes or letters via audiocassettes. It takes time, lots of quality time, for a heart-to-heart dialogue. And time seems to be a vanishing commodity in our frenzied world. What a shame.
Letters, but especially those written by hand, are the unique and personal expression of the writer. They are a blueprint of who we are and can reflect the many moods of the human heart. A handwritten letter allows us to get close to each other, close to the real you and me in each one of us.
A letter can be read over and over again and shared with others, whereas the essence of a phone call quickly evaporates into thin air. A letter does not violate our space or interrupt the conversation around the dining room table. It can be read after everyone else has gone to bed, or it can be shared with the rest of the family like a good dessert served after the main meal. It can also be easily copied and shared with others. A good letter has a way of growing wings.
My sister has carried with her for sixty plus years the last postcard she received from her husband. He was reported missing in action during World War II. She sometimes retraces his few handwritten words and draws comfort from being able to touch something he touched.
playing games with children and friends, and visiting with one another around a beautifully set dining room table.
The world would be different today–spiritually impoverished–had the apostle Paul and some of the other disciples of Jesus not penned their God-inspired thoughts for us. They recorded the words in the form of letters to both individuals and churches.
The world is racing forward at break-neck speed. Speed in its many configurations has been chosen as one of the many “gods” this world worships. The world today has little patience, demanding everything instantly. There is little time left to just sit down and write a letter, especially since our entertainment-crazed culture has glued so many of us to the television screen or computer monitor. And as a result we have sacrificed some very valuable activities such as writing letters,
Satan is a thief. In spite of a multitude of labor-saving devices, we are still running out of time most of the time. Being too “busy” or not having enough money becomes an excuse we use to avoid doing what God says is important. And if Satan can steal our time and money, he will eventually be able to steal our souls.
Most of us have learned to read and write. However, we are rarely encouraged to practice or to use these talents after we leave school. We have few role models today who inspire or challenge us to write letters. In other words, we have hidden our light under a bushel basket. We bury talents we don’t use. I am no longer fluent in my native tongue of German because I no longer have an occasion to use it.
I would like to blow new life into the dying embers of the art of writing letters, this forgotten language of love. My desire to see this form of communication resurrected is the main purpose of this epistle. The fragmented Body of Christ can never and will never be joined, will never be knit together, unless we reach out to one another in a loving, caring, intimate, and consistent manner. It can never happen in front of the television or computer monitor, the greatest thieves of our time today. We just sit in front of screens and gorge ourselves with junk food. We do not give. We only take to satisfy our insatiable appetite for more bizarre and perverted entertainment and “bad news.”
In writing a letter, we have unlimited opportunities to give, to bless, to comfort, to encourage, to confess our sins privately, and also to challenge one another. Unless we make a deliberate decision to set aside a portion of our time to write letters, it will not happen. Let us leave a legacy that will allow our children, grandchildren and friends to be able to lovingly retrace our words with their eyes and fingers and remember us that way. Compared to happy memories, money is a very poor legacy.
Writing a letter from the heart takes time. It should not be rushed and cannot be rushed if we want to write a quality letter. It must never be treated as just another hurry-up or obligatory job. I attempt to write in a manner that blesses and doesn’t require a reply. I try not to dump my burdens on others when I write; although I do feel free to share them discreetly but without complaining or bashing someone. I may challenge someone from time to time, but not with the intent of correcting them. A letter is to be a gift with no strings attached. We are to write out of the abundance of a caring, giving, compassionate and enthusiastic heart. Many of my relationships began with a letter - an outpouring of my heart through my pen. I have received many beautiful bouquets of flowers that will never wilt—bouquets of words—letters. I have written many letters. My Mother treasured them and saved them. They have been compiled into a book. Take a look at Letters from a Soldier.
There are many lonely hearts in this world. Some are so lonely that they write letters to themselves so that their letterbox is not empty or only filled with junk mail day after day. I wished I could touch all these lonely hearts and gently weave them into the tapestry called “The Caring Body of Christ.” I can’t, but maybe we can do this together? Will you help me? It’s worth a try. Through a letter we can make the Scripture, “God is Love” tangible, alive and visible to one another.
We cannot be knit together unless we reach out to each other. We will never be one family, one community, one nation or one world under God unless we do nice things for one another all the time. Our pens can serve as Jesus’ knitting needle. I challenge you, “Pick up your pen today and write something nice to someone who least expects to hear from you.” I wouldn’t mind being the recipient.
Thanks bunches for reading my heart.