We begin life in community from the time of our earliest awareness of family members and our chosen friends. It’s a special joy to watch grandchildren begin to sense wider belonging, and celebrate it.
For my part, continuing contact with innumerable people I’ve encountered across a lifetime, some of whom I actually meet only rarely, is one of life’s richest gifts. Handwritten letters are treasures. I can still ‘see’ some such letters that passed into history years ago, and often something as simple as a distinctive hand restores huge swathes of detail and story to my mind one might have thought long forgotten.
Always something of a daydreamer in my schooldays (and since!) I wasn’t overly keen on learning penmanship and writing exercises. How glad I am today for those who persevered in teaching me the joys of the written word. I cannot imagine life, or story, without them.
I’ve spent the greater part of this afternoon handwriting letters, many of them rather overdue, and have been glad of it. Letter-writing slows me down and focuses heart and soul and mind. The deliberate, precise marks of pen and ink upon paper need to be made slowly enough to allow for deciphering later – always a tricky business with my hand; and for reflection upon things one wants to share with the recipient, and upon the person herself or himself, and upon where our life-correspondence has brought us thus far, making of quietness a necessity.
This is wholesome and good. Both the address and the quietness in which it is made remind me that all of our lives are sustained in relationship. We make marks upon paper in much the same way that our addressees, and life itself, make marks upon us, and we upon them. Unique and very personal signature beneath “yours ever”, or “sincerely”, or “faithfully” or “gratefully”, or “with love” brings persons into one another’s company, wheresoever we or they may be. And in company there can be no limit to the possibilities we may come to see.
A few days ago we were delighted to receive a handwritten letter from one of our most thoughtful and imaginative friends. We’ve kept many of his letters for years and always look forward to them. I’m thinking of Robert this evening whilst mulling over John Fox’s “interior place”.
Robert told us that he’d attended a creative writing course a decade or so ago, at which time a number of mind’s eye characters were brought to life by his pen. Wonderfully, he finds himself still wondering about them – how they’re getting along, what’s next in their lives?
Yes, indeed, you “build an interior place when you write”.