They’re simple gestures, handwritten notes in stamped and addressed envelopes. It’s an extraordinary gesture in the digital age of text, email, and social media messaging. Electronic communication is convenient and immediate, unlike handwritten communication.
According to Simon Garfield, author of “To The Letter, A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing” critics dating back to Queen Victoria have complained that letter writing is on the brink of extinction. Written communication takes thought, time and effort, especially in our culture:
- Go to the store and pore over racks of cards.
- Choose one that communicates your message but doesn’t break the bank.
- Go to the post office and buy stamps.
- Come home and find a pen that doesn’t smudge.
- Decide what to say and write it legibly with no misspellings.
- Look up the address and copy it, then stamp the letter and take it to the mailbox.
In contrast, a text message is a thousand times quicker and easier:
- Grab your phone,
- scroll through your contacts,
- thumb a text message, and
- tap Send.
For those of us who want to send a paper and ink letter, but not don’t want to spend so much time running around, there’s an app for that! Lettrs marries old-school letter writing with contemporary digital communication. One of their services allows you to type your letter, choose your paper, specify the recipient, and have your letter snail-mailed to them from their office in Connecticut.
It’s not a bad option, but it still feels manufactured and somewhat impersonal. There’s something special about holding paper that someone else chose, held and penned especially for you.
This card came when I was recovering from surgery, and is one of my favorites:
I wish I’d saved the card that came with this:
This bookmark lived in my Bible for years. For whatever reason, it didn’t transfer to the new Bible I bought a couple of years ago. I recently found it when I sorted through some old notes.
It was a gift from my mom during a time in my life when I wrestled with God’s plan for my life. Out of college and living alone, I reeled from a recent breakup. This reminder of her love and support encouraged me for years, and continues to bless me.
Mom went to be with the Lord in January 2014, but her words and thoughtfulness remain.
Lord, help us to be thoughtful and considerate, honoring and blessing those we hold dear. May we be willing to inconvenience ourselves that we might encourage, share words of life that point them to You.