MAILBOXES FILLED WITH KINDNESS
One comfort that I relish is a letter from a close friend.
The surprise of the letter in the day’s mail,
the recognition of her handwriting on the envelope,
the ritual of getting settled into my chair and reading
and rereading her carefully chosen words.
MAILBOXES FILLED WITH KINDNESS – PENPALS
I painted our ugly black metal mailbox white and used blue paint to stencil a flower and the house numbers on it. Staunton, Virginia was the first place I began to send and receive #PenToPaper cards and letters.
We left Ohio when I was five years old. My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Cobb, who would later teach both of my daughters’ third grade classes, became a pen pal when we moved away. I’d sit on the front porch swing waiting. The mail truck would stop at our house, and I would leap barefoot over the sprawling roots of the maple tree to see if there was a letter for me.
A few months later, I began collecting stamps. Every year for Christmas, I would ask for the USPS Philatelic book containing every stamp released that year. A life-long obsession with cards and stationery grew as well, and I began collecting all kinds of paper. Most of all, I began a love of slow, thoughtful, back-and-forth conversations written by hand.
If you know me personally, you have most likely received a #PenToPaper from me. It’s been a priority most of my life, but when I became very sick and struggled with losing the ability to minister in any kind of active way, I began setting aside one day a week to look through my address book, Facebook friends, and church directory, and I would mail cards and letters to touch base, encourage, and celebrate people.
MAILBOXES FILLED WITH KINDNESS – SHOWING LOVE
I took the opportunity to pray specifically for each person I wrote.
In this world, we primarily follow and respond to one another’s lives in seconds on social media or in text messages. If, however, someone is very close to us, there is something incredibly intimate about receiving a letter touched by their very own hands, written in their unique style and penmanship, and carried to their own mailbox. They push up the flag as if to say, “Stop here! I have a piece of love to send today.”
I’m fascinated with the logistics of the postal service. People complain about the price of stamps, but I still marvel that for just over fifty cents I can write someone a letter, mail it from my home today, and they will receive it anywhere in the country yet this week. I like to think of the journey my letter takes to get from here to there.
I’ve also been the recipient of hundreds of #PenToPaper acts of kindness over the years.
There are days a letter in my mailbox is the only contact I have with the world outside my home. The thoughts and prayers expressed in my own love language have literally rescued me. I don’t take one for granted. I cherish them all, and I hoard them — and I don’t save much of anything I haven’t used in the past thirty days.
MAILBOXES FILLED WITH KINDNESS – TO BE KEPT AND SAVORED
My life is simple and lean, but when I die there will be my books and hat boxes, shoe boxes, and Rubbermaid containers stuffed full of personal mail. The postmarks form the framework for my life’s timeline. Friends come and go. A few have stayed forever. Some people I don’t know at all, but they pray for my family and me, and support us.
These cards and letters tell a story I love to read over and over again.
As part of my year of listening, I have pulled back almost completely from responding on social media. I rarely text. When I feel myself wanting to type a few characters to express my sorrow or joy over something someone has shared, or just want to tell someone, “I love you, you are on my mind and heart,” I STOP.
Then I sit down next to my rolling cart full of paper, pens, stamps and stickers, and my old-fashioned address book, and I write something real and lasting, walking it down to my mailbox with a prayer. On every piece I’ve sent, I’ve written somewhere on the envelope, the hashtag #PenToPaper.
Today, think of someone who could use a note of encouragement, thanks, or love, and take the time to write a #PenToPaper note to them. Pray for them as you write or walk it to your mailbox. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #PenToPaper. They will enjoy the kindness in a mailbox.
Monica Kaye Snyder
Founder of Option EDS
Monica is a writer who blogs about a long journey of chronic illness and daily physical suffering. Some of her diagnoses include Chiari malformation, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Tethered Spinal Cord, Craniocervical Instability, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, Intracranial Hypertension, Mast Cell Activation Disorder and most recently PANS/PANDAS. She’s seen real miracles happen and holds on to Christ’s Hope as an anchor for her soul while living in great pain.
She is wife to Dan and mother to Delaney Jayne and Danica Jean. She knows for sure if she does nothing else well in her life this will matter and be enough.
Monica is founder of Option EDS (the retreat) and dreams of building a permanent respite home for EDS warriors in Tucson, Arizona.
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Sometimes all we need to get us started are a few words. Include these short prayers in a notecard or email, or send them in a message or text to a friend or loved one.