Amanda Kern writes….”Nobody uses snail mail anymore. That’s a generally accepted fact here in the United States and probably around the world. USPS is declining in business, we get more than a handful of emails a day but all the snail mail we get is junk mail, and we’re more likely to send birthday cards with just a signature and some cash rather than a letter of more than two sentences.

It’s true for almost everybody. That is, except me.

Here I sit, in south Texas, writing letter after letter. I’ve must have sent out more than twenty letters since I’ve gotten here. Is it a desperate attempt to keep in touch with others, now that I’m thousands of miles away but still in the same country? Maybe. Is it because I love to write? Maybe.

Dorothy Day wrote “Writing is an act of community…
It is part of our human association with each other.
It is an expression of our love and concern for each other.”

But there’s something else about it. When I pick out the perfect card to write in for this specific friend (it’s a process – I don’t pick just any card), when I put the pen (black, never blue) in my hand to begin to write, something happens. It’s more than just me asking how they’ve been, giving updates on myself, etc. With each sentence I write, I think more about the person and subsequently pray for them. It makes me feel a spiritual connection with them despite the distance, and in some cases, despite the fact we haven’t seen each other in a year or more. My letter actually becomes a form of prayer.

I don’t write anything profound in the letters – they’re really fluff compared to the letters of St Paul, St Therese, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen or Ita Ford (all of which I’ve read and loved) – yet I find it an extension of my prayer life. It makes me think outside of me and my own little world, outside of my local community, outside of my ministry in Brownsville, outside Texas and even outside the country. It increases my gratitude for all that I’ve experienced and all the people I’ve encountered in my life.

Outside of the benefits to my own life, it’s also my own way of showing love (and such, showing God’s love). When I send a letter, I send it with the hope that it brings a smile to someone’s face and lets them know that someone cares. Someone cares enough to console them, to congratulate them, to encourage them or even to simply say hello from miles away. And when someone cares, it’s a sign that God cares. Letter writing allows me to a be a daughter of charity from miles away, states away, even countries away.

It’s a long lost ministry. Not many even think of it any more. But slowly, I’ve realized that writing is part of my vocation, its own separate type of ministry. And the wonderful thing about that (and also maybe the demanding) is that it comes in many different forms – journal entries, blog posting, letter writing. And as long as I continue to listen to this voice compelling me to write, the long lost ministry of letter writing won’t die (and USPS and greeting card companies will continue to love me because of my business)

You might also like:
An Open Letter to St. Louise de Marillac
Vincentian Quote of the Week: St Vincent & Chosen by God
Not Left Forgotten: Guided by the Spirit of Ita Ford

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