Monday, December 12, 2005

Love on paper

There is something of a movement starting to pick up momentum across the United States. I'm skeptical! "Movements" come and go. They tend to be faddish. They are often shallow. But this one shows real promise.

Churches across the country are offering workshops to teach people how to write love letters. Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics, and Baptists have participated. From California to Florida, Texas to Alaska, people enroll.

An initiator of this movement is a 57-year-old man who found his late father's banged-up tackle box while cleaning out his garage. It dawned on him that the tangled, rusty fishing lures in that box were all he had left from his dad's hands. And he was suddenly angry at his father for not leaving him something more personal and substantive from his heart. Then he wondered if he was doing any better by his own children. If he dropped dead, what would he leave them?

Greg Vaughn resolved that day to leave his children letters documenting joys he had shared with them. His hopes for their future. His pride in their achievements. His faith in them as persons. From that event and Vaughn's experience of sharing it with some friends, "Letters From Dad" was born.

Writing a real letter – as opposed to text messaging or just signing a birthday card – is hard. It requires focus and concentration. It calls for a degree of creative energy to communicate clearly. And it almost always pulls up feelings as well as mere facts and memories. That's why it is so hard for men to write one.

Females would benefit from putting things on paper too. But we males seem to have a tougher time with feelings. We struggle to put emotional content into conversations with people who mean the most to us. So an occasional "Love ya!" in passing or "Love, Bob" at the bottom of a greeting card is all some wives, children, or parents ever get from their husbands, dads, and sons.

So here's an idea for you: Whatever else you give your mate or offspring or parents this Christmas, write them a love letter to go with it. There's still time to write them. Sleep on them. Revise them and make them better. Just put some of your heart on paper to them. Tell her how important she is to you. Let him know you are proud of him. Thank her for what she does to make your life better.

Forget literary flourish. Put some love on paper. Offer it shamelessly. Continue the practice next year – on an anniversary, birthday, or special event. Write one out of the blue. The people you love both need and deserve to know it.

Reprinted from http://www.rubelshelly.com