Sunday, September 11, 2016

Where The Streets Have No Name

We're still building and burning down love
Burning down love.
And when I go there
I go there with you
(It's all I can do).

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love:  So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever.  
~Book of Common Prayer

Monday, September 5, 2016

Take Note

As you have likely gathered from reading this little blog o’mine, even on a semi-regular basis, I am rather old-school about some things.  My favorite Philosopher says I’m nearly “counter-cultural”!  That sounds like far too hip a term to describe my person, but the closer I get to the half-century mark, the more I’m likely to adopt that tagline.  Whatever the appropriate descriptor may be, things such as opening doors for ladies (young and seasoned alike), family dinners, and checking out books (the kind which allow you the tactile delight of turning actual pages) from your local public library fall into that category.  And, then, there’s the priceless pleasure of a hand-written note.  Both the writing of and receiving of such.  <Insert dramatic pause for effect--and a happy sigh>.

As a little girl, I loved checking the mail.  I still do.  I don’t skip to the mailbox now.  Usually. Remember what it was like to pull open the door of your aluminum box and find some little gem addressed to you?  If I didn’t recognize the address, I would try to decipher who it was by the handwriting on the envelope.  Beautifully-written cursive from an Aunt--who is left-handed.  Nana’s lovely looped letters.  Fast-forward to college days when you could peer into your little post office box (#90), and see through the side slots if there was anything in there. The best days were those when you couldn’t even see in the box because it was packed full--usually around a birthday or another Hallmark holiday!  The unexpected note from a best friend--or a card from your crush, be still my beating heart.  Or one of those little “Pass It On” cards, available in the campus bookstore, that just made your day.  

There’s just something about a hand-written note.  Some One has taken the time to purchase a card/notecard, sat down to write a little something (or a big something), and sent it to you. A few sentences that say “I was just thinking of you”.  “Thanking God for this in your life”. Or “just because.”

Thank you notes are not a fixture of the past, my friends.  Nor are they superfluous.  In a society that is seemingly downward spiraling into a morass of snark, animosity, and narcissistic self-absorption, a simple expression of gratitude is a saving grace. For a gift, a thought, a dinner, what have you.   Please don’t get me wrong--courtesies and kindnesses are not extended in order that the giver will receive some kind of dopamine rush for “doing good”--or in hopes of receiving some public acknowledgment of appreciation.  However, acknowledging the kindness of another brings yet another blessing.  

I shall now descend from my soap box.  I’m short--it’s not a very long way down.

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.  ~Phyllis Theroux

I have a file folder, nay a box, of sweet notes, hand-crafted cards, post-its, etc, which I call my “Serendipity” file.  Some of them date back twenty years.  Yes, I am the one who saves such things.  Shocking, I know.  They simply make me smile.  And remind me of folks I might not have thought about in a while; but, for whatever reason or season, will always remain in my heart’s neighborhood.  Yes, a few of these exist in digital format (see the similarly-titled Folder in my Gmail) and those words are appreciated.  Even in this electronic, instantaneous age, the fact that someone would take the time to put gracious words into a post and send them along is appreciated.  They contain no “text-speak” or “U” or “Thanx”.  They contain real words--in their fullness!  And, we can all identify with the outward smile (or the inward grin) that occurs when we see certain names pop up in our Inbox.  

Yet, as one of my sweet friends recently shared with me upon receiving a hand-written note in her mailbox, our hearts do a “pitter-patter” kind of thing when we retrieve our mail, sort through the sales circulars and bills, and find a “happy” in the stack.  It’s a double-edged blessing, I think.  The writer, having expressed their thoughts and stuck a stamp on them, is hopeful that the note will make its way to the intended in a timely manner.  It’s like a one-person surprise party.  You know you sent it--and Whee!  Then, the recipient has their day blessed because they know that somewhere, someone has been thinking especially of them. Perhaps the words written are more timely than one could ever know.  For whatever reason. Or they’re just fun and WAHOO!

During our brief stint in the frozen North (Central Pennsylvania), we worshiped at a church that had “mailboxes” for each church family.  You could return a Tupperware dish, a sweatshirt left behind from a play date, a book borrowed, or what have you.  It was also a great way to send notes to one another.  Yet another instance where it was fun to “check your box”.  It created a sense of community, I think.  And cultivated gratitude. A crop that never goes bad.

Be it “old-school” or “counter-cultural” or an attempt to preserve civilization as we know it, just write it down.  Appreciate someone.  Make them laugh.  Surprise the hoo-ha out of them.  

For as my very favorite bear once said, 
“Sometimes it’s the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”