While I was growing up, letter writing was one of my favorite pastimes. It was not only a way to keep in touch with old friends, but also a way to learn more about the world around me. I had several pen pals with whom I would exchange letters with at least once a month. This went on for most of my childhood and into my early 20’s until for one reason or another, the correspondences became fewer and farther between. Eventually most of the communications have stopped. Although I may have very little idea of where life has led these people, I can remember where they’ve been and what impact we had on each other’s lives. Being the pack rat that I am, I can look back on the letters saved over the years and reflect on the concerns and conversations of the day almost feeling their presence in their written words.
Today my children are trying to keep alive the tradition of letter writing. They write to relatives they hardly ever see and my daughter exchanges letters with a girl in Canada that she met a few years ago while we were on vacation at the beach. Who doesn’t love to receive a surprise note in the mail? There is something special about getting a handwritten letter. It feels like someone has sent part of themselves to you. And when they are away from our lives we can look upon the pencil scratched or ink smudged records of yesterday like photographs of the heart and remember.
With the ease of the telephone, e-mail and instant messaging, I wonder if the art of letter writing will be lost to our children. I certainly hope not. So many blanks in history have been filled in with the discovery of long forgotten messages exchanged between family, friends and even enemies. Where would we be if the apostles had IM-ed the churches? I shudder to think. While technology has greatly opened the doors of communication and has blessed us with many things, I still enjoy the simple pleasure of opening the mailbox and finding an envelope addressed from someone special. It would be a shame to sacrifice the gift of a letter to technology.
2 Corinthians 3:2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.