A letter from America

“Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.” 
~  Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club

I love social networking. I love logging on to Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere and swapping ideas, discussing the news, the day-to-day activities of online friends, learning more about advocacy and breast cancer. I am a big fan of online interactions and as you know some of these online friendships have become friends off-line too. Of course more of an effort is required to meet offline and sometimes it can be easier to log onto a computer than make that effort (though I am always so happy when I do make the effort!).

Some friends are too far away to be able to meet up in person, but you can still have the next best thing – a hand-written letter or note. Whatever happened to that practice of writing a note and sending it to a friend to let them know you are thinking about them? Has the ease with which we interact online made us too lazy and thoughtless or does the gesture seem too old-fashioned and self-conscious nowadays?

I received just such a note recently all the way from America and reading the hand-written words, my whole day was turned around. That someone would go to the effort of buying a card, sitting down and writing it and then mailing it, well it just lifted my spirits more than any tweet or Facebook message (much as I love those too).

The card sits on my kitchen windowsill and each time I see it I smile. I think of the person who wrote the card and how her well-wishing seems all the more real because of the effort it took to send the card. I’ve read and treasured her kind words more than once and seeing them in her own hand-writing has made it all the more personal and special.

So who is this wonderful card sender?

Her name is Debbie and we met online two years ago and knowing how much I love the poetry of Mary Oliver, she sent me her local church bulletin with a poem of Oliver’s on it. She popped it into a card with some lovely words.  Debbie has sent me several cards over the past two years and each time I get one, it is a wonderful surprise and a joy. As I write these words, I am suddenly conscious that I have never returned the gesture – why? Perhaps I’ve been lazy, thoughtless, too preoccupied.  But sometimes, an old-fashioned hand-written note is just what we would most love to receive to make us feel loved.

Norman Vincent Peale once said that the purpose of writing inspirational notes is simply “to build others up because there are too many people in the demolition business today.” So, who would you like to build up today? Who around you deserves a note of thanks, of support, or a just because you’re special card?   Why not send them one today and let them know you are thinking of them.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around ~ Leo Buscaglia