Waiting for a Letter
I’ve been waiting for a letter all week.
As each day comes, I head out to the mailbox, open the door, uncover my eyes, and end up waiting some more. Every second builds into the next as I anticipate wax seals, smeared pen strokes, and envelopes addressed to me. However, the anticipation just seems to build and build – till I’m about ready to explode. As I reach into the mail box it seems like I pull out less than I did the day before. My hands always seem empty from the weight of the mail. There I stand, dumbfounded, starring into a postal blackhole determined to find the letter that has slipped out the back into another dimension.
I have never been good at waiting for the mail – which is surprising because I love handwritten letters so much. There is just something profound about them. Letters are like fingerprints. They have a clear sense of identity to them. One finds personality in the type of envelope chosen, the way the words move across the page, the contents enclosed, how the letter is sealed, and how names are abbreviated or left the same. Letters speak a lost language that is so beautiful to me.
So, it is hard sometimes waiting for the mail, but often, in the waiting, I am reminded of the beauty of this art. I am reminded of all that writing a letter involves. We often forget, but there is a cost to writing a letter. Not only does it cost us a few pages, an envelope, and a stamp, but it costs us a bit of our hearts, our time, and our personalities.
Writing a letter is like writing a story: we create, for the reader, the environment in which we write; we describe the character(s) involved in the writing; we build the plots and subplots of our week, month or year; we construct conflict and then resolve it; and then seal it up to send it to the ‘publisher’.
Letter writing is a craft that is refined with each stroke and each thought. It doesn’t simply speak in our place, but in some mysterious way it speaks as if it were us; as if we were standing in the room conversing with the reader. Letters bridge the distance and bring us close again. Not only do they fill and encourage us, but they remind us that someone cared enough to give of themselves to write us.
This is the beauty of letter writing. A beauty that is slowly being forgotten, but a beauty that I will fight to keep alive.
So, I stand by the mailbox waiting for what has been given that I might give in return.