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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Before my feet reached the floor this morning, I was creating a mental "to-do" list for the day.  Tucked snugly between the usual household responsibilities, I added "write letters" to two young women in my life who have recently displayed such dignity in light of a difficult family circumstance. 
I began to ponder this concept of "letter writing", for in a culture of speed and technology the logical choice of communication is stated: "E-mail a quick synopsis of how you feel and be done".  Even better (for some time-crunching folk) is the broken-English, smiley face splashed, instantaneous text message.  Is there still value to be found in writing a traditional, hand-written, formulated note?  I think so, my Sojourners!
So, as I try to rationalize the conclusion that letter writing is valuable, I must answer the question of why???

*I find that I feel "cherished" when I receive a hand-written note.   When I was going through a diagnosis of bone cancer, I had complete strangers sending me notes of encouragement.  I hold these dear.  Certainly, emails of encouragement are still "encouraging", but there is a vulnerability extended when one writes in one's own hand-style a message from the heart. 
*Letters open passages through history.  Much of what we know concerning the "private lives" of  historical people is due to letters written and received,  AND KEPT by these.  The "keeping" is certainly an important factor. Does one keep a text message around to read and re-read in times of discouragement?  I have read letters that my grandma received from distant relatives around the time of the Great Depression.  I instantly am struck by the beauty of the simple page of hand-scrolled lettering.  I am connected in a way to these "distant relatives" who died far before I was born.  I am smitten.
*Finally, the act of writing an "old-fashion", "snail-mail", letter from the heart expresses to the recipient, "I have taken the time to sit down (literally sit down, as opposed to trying to text a quick message while waiting in line at the market) and thoughtfully considered what I have to say to you in this moment".  What a gift- to be truly "considered".

What about your thoughts?  Do you find yourself drooling over stationery, or do you think of letter writing as an out-dated formality?

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