This is Keena. I met Keena when I taught a First Year Student English course at Messiah College. Keena was 16 years old and entered Messiah College early because she was so advanced scholastically. The course I was teaching was “Living and Working when Cultures Collide”. I had a PhD in cross-cultural studies. Keena spoke 5 languages fluently and had been an exchange student in both Spain and France. Although I’ve studied 4 languages, I am fluent in only one: English, my native tongue. Keena was way far ahead of me in language study, but she really needed an adult to help her through adolescence. I believe God chose me. We are still close friends. She is now 32. I have known her half of her life. One of the things that Keena loves and has always loved more than anything is a handwritten letter. She was raised in the age of e-mails, faxes and twitter, but she longs for snail mail and hand-written encouragements. When she was overseas, I made it a point to mail her one hand-written letter each time. Today she lives in Hong Kong and teaches Spanish and music at a private international school. I always make her a handmade birthday card and Christmas card and write a letter to put in each of them. They are always pure gold to her.
I received a 7-page handwritten letter from a wonderful midwife I have exchanged e-mails with the past couple of years. We are casual acquaintances, but she took me ‘under her wing’ when I lost my maternal-child nursing job last January. She is from Australia and sent me a calendar of Australia the past two Christmases and once sent me an Aussie snack spread to broaden my culinary experience. With this year’s calendar was the letter. As I read the pages, I began to weep. She had lost her dear husband and she was trying to learn how to live without him. I could not imagine what she must be going through. I wrote her back immediately. Sorrow of this kind demands that the pen go to paper and the lifeblood in the fingers make the pen move. No computer can coax out the angst quite the way a pen in hand can, at least for those of us who are old enough to have used the pen most of our lives.
Two other times this past month I have received two long letters. One from an old friend who wanted to let me know what she has been doing the past couple of years since we haven’t seen one another and the other was from someone I asked a question of many months ago, but who had been too busy to respond. She felt so badly about not responding that she took a long bit of her precious time to send me a private Facebook message telling me just how crazy things have been in her life. Although this was not hand-written, I had the same feeling about the private message as I did receiving the handwritten notes: someone pouring her soul out to me in such depth I could feel her heart beating with each word I read.
Earlier this week my older son, Harry, was talking to me on the phone and shared how much his boys loved to get mail. He said it is the easiest way to give them a thrill. Throw a sticker or a tattoo or some construction paper kisses into a letter and send it through the mail: instant HIT! He said he used to love that when he was a kid, and it is amazing to him how much his own boys love it, too. Here is an excited Max getting my birthday package to him. He’s holding in his hand the homemade superhero card I made for my own little superhero!
All these snail mail happenings make me think how important the human element is: we touch the item we send, we actually form the letters to the words we write and scratch them onto the paper. I am reminded of this in the precious Word of God where the apostle Paul includes this most important phrase: II Thessalonians 3:17 (NET) “ I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, which is how I write in every letter.” Paul felt it important to have the salutation part of each of his epistles written with his own hand. It was like a proof that it was from him, but I also think it was to show the early Christians he cared. It was difficult for him to write because of his poor eyesight, but he did it so they knew he was the one behind the letter.
God is with us—His handiwork is everywhere. Have you seen the moon tonight?
Tis exceedingly magnificent,