This originally appeared as part of the Daily Sip, a website from Charles LaFond, a spiritual companion, author, potter and fundraiser who lives on a farm in New Mexico with his dog Kai. offering regular meditations and reflections on spirituality and church fundraising
Thousands of years ago letters were written. Love letters. Administrative letters. Coded letters. Anarchy letters. Sedition letters. Kill-the-king letters. Military letters. Letters from people in places like Corinth and Thessoloniki, Rome and Ephesus. Letters from people like Titus, Philemon and Timothy or perhaps from the people who were their greatest fans pushing for their “greatest hits” of thought. I expect there were a lot of letters about our creeds and stuff. And how tall the chalice should be.
My favorite museum on the planet is the British Library Special Collections Room. Letters. Famous letters from famous people. And Jane Austin’s desk; which stopped my breath and caused a little pee to escape. Just a little. A tiny spot, really. I just lost it. I started to cry, and the British Library lady brought me tissues. She would have brought me tea with lots of sugar, but it was against library rules. And I am sure I would have spilled it on one of Emily Dickinson’s letters, a mistake which I am sure would have required paperwork. In duplicate. And an apology. And perhaps a fee of some sort. Like a bazillion dollars.
I quite like letters. I like the blue azure ink my grandmother used (Harrod’s still sells it) and fountain pens and rag paper from the Amalfi Coast of Italy. I Like drawing the ink into a pen from an ink bottle. I like writing the “F” which Mrs. Uittenbosch taught me in high school with all its flourishes and sexy curves.
I like the design of a letter. How wide the margins? How much “white space?” (or in my case, ivory space.) Are there little illustrations in the margins or not? And the postage stamp. There are so many stamps. I love making the right choice for the right recipient.
As a fundraiser, I make myself send five handwritten letters each day to thank donors. They love them. “Real ink!” they say with astonishment in their text. Their TEXT… (sigh.) They say, “Real ink!” the way I say “real burled wood” when I touch the dashboard of a Rolls. (Like ya do.)
Recently my Great Nephew wrote me a letter. It was in those big, blocky letters of a child. Pencil. He followed the normative letter form: Introduction. Admiration about how great I am. Question. Assurance of love.
I cried for hours. HOURS! Then I wrote him a letter. It was, on my Amalfi cotton rag paper and I used my favorite lapis and gold pen, the nib of which has ground down to fit my hand’s writing slant. I told him that I love him. That he is SUCH a big boy to write and mail a letter. That he is always welcome at my pottery studio and that New Mexico is not like Mexico unless I am having a bad day in which case it is like BOTH Mexico and Breaking Bad. And Mad Max. Mostly Mad Max.
I am 55 and he is seven. But he is an old soul. And mischievous in the most fun way possible. One wink from his bright eyes and you give him a trombone for Christmas. One simply MUST. And perhaps a do-it-yourself rocket set.
I get that we like to follow our ancient texts. I even get that we like to do what they tell us as if they were not writing thousands of years ago and unaware that world is round and stuff. And that shrimp are fine to eat if refrigerated. And how cool refrigerators are. Pun intended.
But don’t you wonder what new letters we might write about God? Don’t you wonder if people will read Anne Lamott or Rumi or David Sedaris or Lord Byron from an eagle-festooned podium someday (in 3030 AD, in a church, on a street, in a city, under a sun-blocking dome, with refrigeration?)
I have a friend with two books on his bedside table. He reads from them both every day. One is the Bible. The other is a Common Place book in which he writes his favorite quotes and letter fragments from his favorite poets and authors. To him BOTH books are sacred texts. We may assemble our sacred texts.
Charlie and I will write letters. They will be texts. And they will be sacred to me. Very sacred.
So find a pen. Find some paper. Write a letter to someone you love. A sacred text of your own. Dare to do it. Do it now. If you kiss it before it goes into the envelope, it is sacred. I promise. I am a priest, so I know this stuff. Trust me.
But then, so do you. We, all of us, know sacred when we see it. And when we don’t.