It happened again yesterday. An emotional click.
A kid plopped a stack of mail on the counter – and something jumped out at me. Not a bold advertisement – not a dreaded bill – not newsy flyer – but my own name hand-written in a hasty scrawl on bright envelope with a real stamp.
Randy has a simple routine when he goes on an overseas trip. He gets to the airport early enough to buy a card and send it to me. Why is such a little thing such a big deal? Why not just text?
What that envelope represents that a text never can: He bought the card – he wrote on the card (usually a couple lines of what he’s thinking about me or what he’s praying for me) – he addressed it – he stamped it – he dropped it into the mailbox across from the Delta lounge. Then – someone must have taken it out of the mailbox – and loaded into a mail truck – and driven it to a sorting place – and put it on another truck – and someone must’ve driven it to our post office – and sorted it again – and loaded it onto another truck – and then someone drove it to my house – and put it in my mailbox – to be gotten by a kid and plopped on the counter.
Compared to the tap and send of a text – flying instantly across cyber-space – his envelope represents his hands and the others who transported it to me. And it so often catches me unawares. Waiting in that stack of mail. It’s often just the right moment for just that encouragement. That reminder.
There’s an emotional click that happens when you see something in the hand-writing of a loved one. There is power in the hand-written word. Anyone can write to me in a digitized font. But my beloved’s hand-writing speaks to me as an impersonal font never could. A history. An intentionality. A faithfulness. A purpose. A reminder of who I am. Of who God is. Of Who is holding us.
And there’s the legacy. A box full of old cards and notes represents something far different than a text thread ever could. Those who come after us just may find that old box full of dusty cards – and gain a sense of who we were and what mattered to us. They’re crumbs on the path. If you have the good fortune of having some letters or journals from your ancestors, you know you have treasure.
Those digital threads? Yes – they’ll exist forever (forever?) somewhere in cyber space. But we’re just a computer crash or a clumsy thumb-stroke away from losing personal access to them.
The hand-written word is becoming a lost art. But we can revive it – at least for our own dear ones.
So, I’m encouraging myself – and you – to WRITE A NOTE TO SOMEONE YOU LOVE. Consider keeping a stack of cards at the ready. And stamps! Sometimes just getting around to buying a card and a stamp is the biggest obstacle in hand-written correspondence.
Take a couple minutes to write out something that you could have texted. To remind them. Address the envelope. Stamp it. Pop it in a mailbox. Then see what happens when that person opens his/her mail. I bet you’ll get a thankful text back!
A steadfast routine. A hope-giving reminder. A stabilizing word. All in a simple, stamped envelope – an envelope that contains more than a card.