Monday, August 16, 2010
Inspiration From Mitford: Letter-Writing
“Years ago, his seminary friend had been moved by the Apostle Paul’s comment that the letter he wrote to the Galatians was “by my own hand,” as if it were an act of great personal sacrifice. As a young seminarian Stuart Cullen had taken that to heart. Since his installation as bishop, he was known to personally pen all the letters of real importance to his diocese. How did he have the time, people inevitably wondered. Well, that was the whole point. He didn’t. Which, of course, made his handwritten and reflective letters a treasure to anyone who received an example.”
-- Jan Karon, At Home in Mitford
Scattered throughout the Mitford series, one will read letters written to Father Tim from his friend and mentor, Bishop Stuart Cullen. These handwritten missives are of encouragement to the recipient as well as beautiful examples of the lost art of letter-writing. Reading the Bishop’s gracious and reflective letters always puts me in the frame of mind to give the gift of a letter to someone else. And letters ARE gifts. In this fast-paced age of e-mail, IMing and Facebook, there is something very sentimental and precious about receiving an old-fashioned letter. The feel of the paper, beauty of the handwriting, encouragement in the words and thoughtfulness of the sender never cease to bring me joy. And that joy spurs me on to pass on that same gift to others.
When the mood strikes (or should I say, when the Spirit moves?), I pull out my correspondence basket and start writing. I have enjoyed stocking my basket with a variety of note paper, vintage cards, interesting postcards, cardstock to create my own cards, thin markers, stickers, stamps, address labels and my address book. I’m continually on the look-out at yard sales and thrift shops for other supplies with which to embellish my basket. (Just the weekend I found an old box of vintage get-well cards at a yard sale. It doesn’t seem that many people send get-well cards anymore – it think, perhaps, it’s an old tradition that it might be nice to resurrect.)
Blessing someone today with a thoughtful handwritten letter will bring encouragement to the sender as well as joy to your heart.