Sunday morning. Coffee in hand, a little light jazz drifting through the kitchen and the Sunday paper spread out before me in all its glory. Low clouds are teeming with rain, so no need to hurry about my morning so I can go get some yard work done. The floors of the kitchen have accumulated more dirt and grim consistent with living, but the floors can wait too. The mountain of laundry is upstairs; out of sight, out of mind. The rest of the household is lost in their own slow Sunday morning time warp. I could write something, but the paper awaits and perhaps an entire pot of coffee.
I love the Sunday paper, it takes me back to my childhood where the Sunday morning table was something you sauntered to in your own time and a place where you lingered. My parents sat book-ended, having divvied up the paper into the sections they liked the most; moving only to refill coffee cups. Some music would be playing in the background, and it’s always spring in my eternal memory, the cool spring breeze that floated through the house smelling of fresh blooming flowers, recently mowed lawns, and a hint of ocean air. I would eat my cereal and linger in the space of such a calm moment as long as I can.
I snuggle into this Sunday morning, a lifetime away from those memories. I’ve read through the news of the world, offered up a prayer for the brokenness of it all. I’ve scoured the newest best-selling list, found out that it’s time to fertilize my lawn, and that this Friday I can finally buy tickets for the musical I want to see. Now, it’s time to feed my consumer tendencies, I flip through the sale ads as ridiculous shinny good are presented in a way that screams ‘You need to buy me! Buy me now!’ Though, just the looking is enough. I clip coupons and set them aside. And, I’m not going to lie, usually, when I get to the Parade section, I hustle it into the ‘read’ pile.
But something caught my attention today in the Parade Magazine, a little something about letters.
I am a lover of letters. I love to write them, I love to receive them, I love to re-read them. I love to save them, paste a few into journals and I even love books where a love letter might play a role. The tactile-ness of a letter comforts me. But we live in a digital age and letters have become inconsequential sentiments punctuated with smiley faces. Still, my romantic heart is holding out as long as it can.
A lovely woman I do not know, Kathryn Ballantine, wrote a well versed essay in Victoria Magazine about this very thing. In Having a Moment to Spare, she mused that letter writing is perhaps “a lost moment in time, memories that are hard to relinquish, that keeps us reaching for paper and pen. Yet, through the process, valuable lessons are learned: patience, perseverance, and self-discipline – three qualities that stand us in good stead generally. Furthermore, thoughts committed to paper are tomorrow’s historical resources, safeguarding for posterity the lives of average people.”
Being in love with the written word, with the stories of us average folks, is perhaps why when I get a letter in the mail, whether I rip it open and devour the contents while standing in the kitchen or I make a cup of coffee so I can sit and relish the moment, I agree with Ms. Ballantine’s sentiment, “the letter that lands on the doormat brings the person as well.”
Back to Parade Magazine and letters. There was a side note in an otherwise lengthy article, about a girl who started a website called Moreloveletters.com. I was intrigued and went on line to find out more.
Hannah B. moved to New York after school and found that the world was not her oyster upon her arrival. She fell into a depression and then fell into her journal. Through her journaling, she found that she was writing letters, love letters. She began writing them and leaving them all over the city. “Coffee shops. Libraries. Coat pockets in department stores. I liked to imagine who might find those letters.”
From there, she blogged about her doings and one day she asked a simple question:
“Do you need someone to write you a love letter today? Just ask.
That one question changed my life forever as I spent the next year writing hundreds of love letters to strangers in all parts of the world. More than just the letters– that question is the reason you and I are here in this space right now. I started More Love Letters three years ago and we’ve become the only global organization out there that blesses individuals–young and old– with bundles of love letters during a time in need. We basically want to create the most miraculous experience for people when they need it most: hundreds of letters of support and encouragement showing up at someone’s door all because someone in their own life loved them enough to just ask for those love letters.”
The website is simple and inspiring. It’s a romantic call to arms. There are several ways to get involved. One is to leave love letters for strangers, examples and ideas are abundant on the site. Another is to write love letters for specific folks who are going through a tough time. There is a brief bio of the person, what they are going through, and why their friends and family have nominated them. There is a deadline for the letters to be sent and an address to mail the letters to. It’s simple, gentle and amazing.
I cannot think of another way to bring a little light into this often dark world than this. I am once again, entrenched in the hope of humankind.
Check out More Love Letters for yourself, or if you are moved to do so, send a love letter to someone you haven’t talked to in a while or to someone you talk to every day.
“Or don’t you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.” – Ernest Hemingway