The art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. Walt Whitman
They are old and yellowed, with ink fading to a light blue. The soft, midnight blue velvet ribbon tied around them says it all – these letters are treasured. The art of writing personal letters is almost a gift of the past. Letters tell rich stories – of the writer and the recipient -- yet our generation is robbed of this gift.
Are handwritten letters a thing of the past? The availability of electronic communication makes it easy to send a quick message or make a phone call, thus writing a letter is usually too much trouble. Regardless, we all like receiving letters, and topping the list – the elderly.
Last year I made a commitment to send one letter a month to someone important in my life – someone who was alone and/or in a difficult situation. I didn’t quite reach my goal, but when I did, I was more blessed than the receiver. I knew I had brightened someone’s day.
Essayist Phyllis Theroux said, “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” But it seems so hard. Where are the stamps? What’s the address? I found a way to make it easier. I addressed twelve notecards – even added stamps, then readily visited with my pen – moving only my heart.
If you sense God urging you towards a mail ministry, consider these suggestions:
1. College students: Young people away from home and need encouragement. I think it’s fun to stuff the envelope with a $5.00 coffee shop card.
2. Facebook friends: How many times do you read of a friend struggling? You can find almost anyone’s address on whitepages.com. Buy a stack of encouraging cards or use a blank notecard. Write an appropriate Scripture, a verse of a hymn, or a personal prayer asking God to bless and comfort them.
3. Preschool children: Children love to get mail, and I’ve found that sending mail to a child also encourages their mother. When my young daughters received mail, they carried it around all day. Include a sheet of stickers or a coloring sheet. Teach your own children the beauty of letter writing, and suggest they write a letter to their friends.
4. Weary, tired mothers: Being a stay-at-home mother is priceless, but let’s not think every minute is a Kodak moment. Kids get sick, pout, tug on clothes, and wear out the word “Mommy.” What harried mom wouldn’t love to watch the postman drop a personal letter in their box? You could write a funny story from when your own children were young or include a cartoon clipping about motherhood.
5. Extended family. My Aunt Posie is slowing down. I rarely get to see her. When I connect through letter writing, I make sure to remind her I don’t expect her to respond to my letters. It’s my gift to her. In my most recent letter, I included a picture of my grandchildren so she could feel a part of my joy.
Write letters to soldiers, prisoners and missionaries. Send them “just because” or on special days. Share what God is teaching you. Make a bookmark to send in the envelope or sprinkle in some lavender petals. There’s no right or wrong except not writing at all.
You may write on beautiful stationary with matching ink, or scribble quickly on your child’s school notebook paper. You may write the address with a flourish or quickly fold the letter into business envelopes. You may seal the envelope with wax or quickly run your tongue over the glue. But we can all write like the great Biblical letter writer, Paul, opening with, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”
These "tuck-in" cards have been taken from Paul's letters to his friends. Click here to Download. Print on Avery clean-edge Business Cards or on heavy paper and cut out. Tuck them into your letters to encourage your friends.