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.


Patty said...

I actually still enjoy sending a hand written letter or card. There may be someone I need to send one to even now. I need to think on this.

Melonie said...

This is a lovely post. I found it via Thrifty Homemaker (on Facebook - slight irony LOL). I have a drawer where I keep writing supplies and I try to keep a book of stamps in my address book at all times. That way whenever I make time to write, I'm ready. I have a pen friend I write to about once a month. I live overseas so I try to pick up postcards whenever we go on a family field trip or a homeschool group trip - I send these to family and friends. I also pull articles out of our military newspapers/magazines to send to my mom and grandmother. They are especially good for my grandmother, who is living alone for the first time in her life after having to place my grandfather in a dementia home. I send little "tastes" of Japan to her at least once a month (snacks, small items from our trips) but postcards and articles are easy and quick. She is internet savvy so she still enjoys getting an email as it's more instant gratification ;-) but is always thrilled when she gets "real" mail at her new home.

I learned that the staff at my grandfather's home read him my letters and postcards over and over, at his request. He doesn't always remember me, per se, but he loves that he's thought of and I try to include a little something that I remember from his younger days in the hope that it will trigger a happy memory for him, or that the staff can ask him about it and he'll be able to share more. When we traveled to the States on vacation I made sure to do the reverse and send postcards home to the kids in our neighborhood and homeschool group, letting them know that we were thinking of them and what we were doing.

I enjoy knowing that people get a smile from their mailbox through my efforts, instead of junk mail or a bill! :-)

Mama Bird said...

What a coincidence this post is! While visiting my grandmother a few weeks ago my 13-year-old daughter found a box of old letters my grandmother had received throughout the years. Some of them dating to the 1930's. She had a wonderful time reading through them. Later that day my daughter commented how sad it was that in the future kids wouldn't be able to do that because all our communications now are in email, etc., and she decided that she's going to try to start sending more handwritten letters and notes for future generations to enjoy. You've inspired me to join her! I always enjoy your blog!