My dear reader,
Apparently, today is World Letter Writing Day. As you can see, I am a full-fledged participant. Otherwise, I would not have addressed you as “dear” and my fingers would not be flying across the keyboard write now. I mean, right now. I am clearly ALL IN. No two-sentence, unsigned email or 140-character tweet or abbreviated txt msg from me. You are getting a real, bonafide (not to be mistaken for cowhide or tree bark or parchment) letter, my friend.
I’m big on letters. Handwritten, typewritten, scribbled or scrawled. Pen or pencil or printer ink. Tucked in plain white envelopes or fancy greeting cards. I don’t discriminate. My day is undoubtedly made when I receive one. And, honestly, not a week goes by that I don’t send one. (Scout’s honor.) I especially like writing a letter inside the flap of a greeting card for a special occasion. . . or no occasion at all. Just to say I’m thinking of you. And I miss/love/celebrate/adore/admire/appreciate you. Or I hope you feel better/do great/chin up, Buttercup.
I’m a regular at Hallmark. It’s one of my happy places. (Not even kidding.) Know why? Because it’s quiet and it smells like paper and everything is arranged in nice, neat rows. And also because every time I send a card and whisper a prayer and write “God bless you!” at the bottom, He does. Heaven-sent, postage-paid, mailbox blessings. And here’s the best part: with or without a return address, the blessings bounce back. Every time I tuck a letter into an envelope and pop it in the mail, posthaste. . . boom. Double blessing. One for the letter-reader: the person facing the challenge or battling an illness or mourning a loved one. The birthday boy/beautiful bride/funny valentine/new mom/dear dad/recent grad/insert recipient’s demographic here. And one for me. The sender. The letter-writer. The Hallmark addict.
In a world of junk mail and Evites and memes, letters mean something. They take time to read and to write. They signal a pause. They convey a message. They make an imprint on a given day. Or sometimes an impact on a given life.
Think about the most significant letter you’ve ever received. A letter from your tough-as-nails-but-tenderhearted grandfather or a long-awaited acceptance letter to grad school or a letter of heartfelt sympathy that convinced you that you were not alone in a sea of sadness. Maybe it was a letter of commendation or hard-earned recognition. . . or painful rejection. Maybe it was a letter from an old flame or a big star or a long-lost friend. Perhaps it marked the highest of highs. . . or delivered the lowest of blows. You held it in your shaking hands, gulping the sentences, feeling its message plunge like an arrow into your heart, for better or worse. Whether you saved it or tore it to pieces, you remember it. And the emotions it evoked.
I have handfuls of letters stashed in an antique writing desk (how fitting, I know) that belonged to my grandmother. Letters from friends, family, far-flung former classmates. They are precious to me. Especially the ones written by my mama. Her untimely death (is there ever a timely one, I wonder?) at just 52 was a complete shock. It left me devastated. . . disoriented. . . distraught. I was utterly undone. But grief and God’s grace and the gift of time have slowly but surely eased, nearly erased, that searing pain and mended the gaping hole in my heart. And now, just a glimpse of her handwriting makes me smile. Her personality glistens on the pages of each letter, and I can almost hear her soft voice, one sentence after another. There is a little bit of wonder in each word. A whole lot of love in each letter. I know I will save them and savor them, always.
And that is why I am writing to you. To deliver an urgent, cogent message. To tell you that you, my friend, are a natural wonder. And you are loved. More than you could possibly know. Don’t believe me? Then there’s another letter you need to open. It’s a letter I know you’ll cherish, if you take the time to read it. It was written by your Father a long time ago. It will surprise you, soothe you, strengthen you. It will convince you, console you, comfort you and compel you. It will resonate and resound, again and again. You can find that letter in nearly every library and every bookstore around. The letter contains 66 “books” of history and mystery, 1189 chapters of poetry and prose, thousands of pages of romance and adventure, countless words of wisdom and wonder. It has been my constant companion through all the seasons of my life: lifting me to breathtaking heights and carrying me through my darkest days. In it, I’ve mined strength, found joy, gained clarity, received comfort and garnered grace. It’s bread. It’s balm. It’s fuel. It’s firepower. It’s a love letter like no other. Written especially to you, dear. There’s a reason it’s called the Good Book. It truly is. Crack it open and see.
Happy reading. . . on Letter Writing Day!
P.S. Would love to hear about a remarkable letter you’ve sent or received. Post your story in the comments section. (I promise to read every last word.)