My mother was a champion letter and card writer. She never missed a birthday, anniversary, or holiday. She wrote me frequently and at length.
After Lillian Groothuis died in 2010, I began writing cards and letters more frequently. I did not write enough cards or letters o my mother or grandmother Groothuis, who was also an admirable correspondent. Now I write many souls frequently, some of whom I don’t know or barely know. Some are in my inner circle of correspondence.
After writing a dear friend’s father, I learned that he read my card to his daughter over the phone and remarked that I should write a book on how to write a short, but meaningful card. I don’t think I could write a whole book on it, but here are a few notions on that theme.
- Writing cards is a way to re-humanize a de-humanized culture. Too much is too automatic and impersonal. When you pen (and I mean pen) a card, it bears the mark of you—your handwriting, your choice of ink and pen. A human, you, emerges from the think lagoon of the pre-set, the template, the standard.
- I often pray, “Lord, who needs a card?” God answers, and I write many cards to many people on many themes. Someone needs a card because she is lonely or suffering or both. Someone may need a card because they have a gift that is largely ignored. I write to commend them, to recognize another gift to man from God.
- I chose my cards carefully, using blank cards with interesting illustrations, such as dogs (always good) or modern art or many other depictions.
- I usually write when I have time to reflect on what I should write. I don’t usually dash them off. Too much is already dashed off in our hurry sickened world.
- I commiserate, thinking through the life of the one to whom I am writing. How can I speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to another person made in God’s image and likeness? What do they need to hear? What might they hear from me that few others have told them?
- I reflect on how Scripture might speak to them. I may quote a verse from the Bible or write some thing like, See Ecclesiastes 9:11, or some other verse. I want biblical truth and wisdom to inform what I write. There is already enough bullshit out there.
- I often end with a biblical blessing, such as 2 Corinthians 13:14 or one improvised on biblical themes.
- I write cards of condolence as often as I can. This is an art. I endeavor to enter their sorry, to restate what they might be experiencing. I do not offer cheap consolation. I lament with one who has lost a friend or relation or who is suffering ill health.
- I often want to teach through my cards, so I recommend books to read.
- I often decorate my cards in sometimes silly ways. Jazz stickers are cool, as are insects. This adds a personal, and for me, a quirky touch.
Consider joining me in my effort to re-humanize the world through the simple, but soulful, act of writing cards and letters.