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It’s true – the art of writing letters is slowly becoming a lost art. Who has the time to put thought on paper (once you find some paper)? Then you have to find an address, a stamp and even a mailbox! Sometimes it is just easier to send a quick text or post a quick message on Facebook. I get that! I’m guilty of doing it too.

But once upon a time, I used to write a lot of letters. Hubby and I started our relationship on paper. He was a poor student in another city and phone calls cost money! I wrote crazy stories with small-town caracatures to a homesick friend studying in the city. When our worlds seemed to be crashing down around us, another friend and I encouraged each other by sharing prayers and scripture. Baring our broken hearts to each other, we helped each other breathe in the darkness, until the sun started shining again.

Though housebound during covid, I once again have time to write and have re-discovered the pleasure in putting pen to paper. And for good reason:

Letters are more personal because they contain my effort, my time, and my handwriting. Those notes are often in or tucked into one of my handmade cards, made or chosen with that person in mind. My hope is that I will lift their spirits, and as I work, mine is lifted as well.

They take more time, which means I am more careful as I consider each word and phrase. I can extinguish inflammatory words before I create firenados. With my emotions in check, I am less likely to discourage, hurt, or offend the reader. And when I share my emotions or concerns, I can be concise, sharing the whole story without interruptions and distractions, and leaving other “cans of worms” unopened.

Letters can be read and re-read by the recipient. It gives them time to consider their response, if one is needed. It limits the number of folks who may feel they have a right to weigh in with their opinion or share their story. But most importantly, it may be something that the reader needs to read again and again, a reminder that they are special and they are loved.

Let us all then leave behind letter of love and friendship, family and devotion, hope and consolation, so that the future generations will know what we valued and believed and achieved.

Marian Wright Edelman