I’ve always loved writing letters … and everything that goes along with letter writing, like stamps, return address labels, sealing wax, stationery, and pens. Perhaps all things postal are in my genes. Postmen (and they all were men) span many generations on the Post side of my family, as far back as the 1600s.
Even as a teenager I started building a collection of letter writing resources. This was before email and cell phones created inexpensive and quick ways to communicate with family and friends. Back then letter writing was far more affordable than long distance phone calls. Over the years I succumbed to one beautiful set of stationery after another, boxed cards, individual cards, handmade cards, you name it.
I might as well also confess to my love of postage stamps. I try to match my stamp selection for a given letter to both the stationery and the recipient. There. I’ve said it. I find it necessary to keep a wide selection of stamps on hand so I can have the perfect match. Over time, this has led to quite a collection of stamps.
April is National Letter Writing Month, an annual celebration of handwritten correspondence created by the United States Postal Service in 2001. (I’ve seen January and February also noted for this honor.) This is my invitation to you to celebrate National Letter Writing Month!
Who in your life needs a letter of encouragement today? Have you told someone how much you admire the ministry in which they are engaged? Whose baptism can you celebrate? To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude? A woman who mentored you in the faith? And if those ideas aren’t enough, there are plenty of bloggers who can offer up other letter writing ideas. Why, there’s even the Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society (it’s based in England)!
The English poet and Anglican cleric John Dunne wrote that “more than kisses, letters mingle souls.” It’s time to mingle some souls! Sit down and write that letter.
It may feel a bit awkward at first, touching pen to paper, using your whole hand not just your thumbs to text. Take it slow if your hand starts to cramp up. There’s the matter of licking an envelope. No big deal. Invest in some forever stamps so you can repeat this exercise somewhere in the future.
Don’t expect an immediate response. It might take a week or more for your letter gift of words to arrive. Enjoy the anticipation.
Postscript: In the early days of the pandemic, Women of the ELCA launched a community-building effort called Dear Friend in Christ. Do you remember? It was a wonderful letter writing project. Visit the link and you can even read some of the letters exchanged in Dear Friend in Christ.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA, and a version of this post first appeared here in 2018.
I also wanted to be a letter writer but it does not come naturally for me. My intention are noted by the number of cards and stationary I own but the actual act just does not fit into my schedule. I guess I need to practice and maybe I will succeed.
It’s probably like any exercise or discipline, you need to practice it, develop those muscles, as it were. A friend once told me of her practice. She kept a basket filled with stationery, note cards, stamps, and pens, along with her daily devotions and Bible. She’d bring home the bulletin from worship with the prayer list. She’d include folks in her daily prayers and then send them a note after reading her daily devotions. I thought that was a lovely practice. I’ve never been that disciplined, but I’d like to aspire to that! 🙂