Written on May 25, 2017. By Shari Norvell
My week began with a slew of emails. The definition of ‘slew’ is “a multitude.” With a slew before, it would be easy to go slay. But my inbox was not filled with a dragon breathing fire, but a people with a pulse. And I wanted to do more than reply, I wanted to respond. Also, wanting to be present, I determined I would not blog this week, until each writing had a return. I know its Thursday now. It was a multitude!
In the midst of my rejoinders, I received a letter from a little boy named Jhonatan in Peru. He’s four and fabulous. Our family supports him through Compassion International and we adore him. We have written him several times and this was our first letter back. Jhonatan shared with us about a field trip he got to take with his parents, his favorite activity (soccer), his favorite food (fried bananas and rice) and he drew us a picture of him playing with his favorite toys (cars). And he shared how much he loved the Psalm we sent him in our last letter.
We each took turns reading and found questions for us at the end. He wanted to know what our favorite foods were and what we did in our spare time. Simple. Until I tried to answer. Tears spilled before words came. It was something about the way his words hung upon the paper, fastened with hope. And the feeling that he didn’t want to know about us. He wanted to know us.
Would I tell him that we loved Mexican food or that everything we eat tastes sweeter because Pappa provides it? And that I’m praying for his table to be full. Would I share that in moments without fill and fodder I enjoy reading or that I love to read the story in the sky? And that I look to see what part of the story he dwells in when I read mine.
A blank page I could fill with writing or wonder. A canvas that could give him a glimpse beyond his dirt floor and wobbly walls. Stationary before me, I remembered something precious from childhood. Pen Pals. I LOVED being a pen pal and had at least tens pals at a time all across the world. We couldn’t Skype, email or text. Waiting was required. And the letters- were like jewels from another land. There was nothing to hide and it didn’t occur to facade our way through.
And I thought about a show we watched with the girls over the weekend. It was based in the 1980’s and it took me a bit to realize what seemed so strange. Phones hung on walls, not in pockets. There was no backspace, with ink and paper.
We don’t linger over something as precious as language. We often wield our words instead of weighing them. Typed talks looks the same on every device. The missing flourish of our pens has easily left our words to each other empty.
And so, I shared my heart with Jhonatan and in each email I returned. All of it. I don’t think I answered anything. I hope I just met each and every one at the very heart that led the send button to be hit.
And through my email extravaganza and a letter to a little boy, my heart got stirred for a campaign that will be our Chronicle and Tabletop for this week.
For the next week, each day, write a letter to someone. Like real letters with envelopes and stamps. In each letter, share a response to something that person has asked you, or something you realize you have never shared before but wanted to. And mail those letters – each day!!