Living Arts Weekly: The Art of Letter Writing

February 14, 2021

Letter-writing on the part of a busy man or woman is the quintessence of generosity.

— Agnes Repplier

For my first couple years of college, my grandmother hand wrote me letters. I enjoyed hearing her updates but what I really loved was that she took the time to write them. We have never been very close, but this touchstone of home met me in my freshly independent life with pragmatic reassurance and trust that I needed at the time. I saved these letters, and placed them in a collection of notes, letters and cards that hold special value for me.

Being an avid journaler, my appreciation for letter writing quickly developed into a lifelong love of exchanging letters and cards with long-distance friends. Moving through one chapter of life to the next, writing and receiving letters has preserved an image or memory of my dear friends in a way that I cannot with just a photograph.

And with my sons, I have traveled the distances of time in writing letters to them at least once a year for their birthday. I keep these letters in a journal and usually as a part of the ritual of writing them each year, we’ll snuggle late at night reading snippets from when they were small.

There is simply something incredibly special about a handwritten letter. Whether messages of encouragement or love, dreams or losses, they move beyond words to become a whole, physical manifestation of heart and mind. Sometimes the paper smells like them. Sometimes I imagine their hands upon the paper, like the ghost of an imprint left behind. Through the carefully chosen words, I can hear the cadence and nuance of their speech. Their messages flow from the heart like blood flowing through veins, rhythmic and life-giving to me, the receiver.

There aren’t many times that we slow down to think of someone for as long as it takes to write a letter. It really is a generous giving of time and demonstration of love. Why else would the practice of writing love letters have perpetuated through centuries? This Valentine’s Day feels like the perfect opportunity to revive a dwindling practice of love like letter writing.

Who will you write to?

Join us for Spring Singing Games with Anna Rainville on March 3rd! Click the link below for details:

Singing Games With Anna Rainville