Have you seen the mini-series on PBS by Ken Burns about the Civil War? I haven’t seen all of it, but what I DID see included the reading of some wonderfully eloquent letters that soldiers had written home to their loved ones. Beautiful, eloquent, heart-felt — handwritten words.
Human emotion hasn’t changed — but the way it’s expressed has — and I think part of the reason is that eloquent, heart-felt words and ideas just aren’t as, well — eloquent, and don’t feel as “right” — when they are typed as they are when handwritten.
Handwritten communication has now taken a back seat to the faster, easier typed communication. Today’s world pretty much revolves around the typed word. But — when it comes to words that are felt deeply and which involve emotions, or are meant to convey caring — you can’t beat the handwritten word.
I have to say that our daughter, DD, has ALWAYS embraced this concept, even as a child. If you know her, you can imagine that her notes are and always have been witty and original, and made even more special because they are in her handwriting.
Gunny has said that when he was a young Marine on a ship on the other side of the world for months at a time, letters from DD were always funny, many-paged epistles, in her big, loopy handwriting, that made him laugh out loud and took him “home” for just a little while.
A friend told me years ago that she LOOKED for reasons to send people notes (handwritten, of course) to thank, praise or encourage. She said she started doing that after she herself received an unexpected note from someone and it felt like a “little gift” in her mailbox. So, she wanted to be a “gift-giver” like that too.
My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Browning, was born in 1869. He was left-handed (that’s probably why I’m left-handed). But back then, all children were MADE to write with their right hand. I have no idea why. But that didn’t stop him from having the most beautiful, flowing handwriting I have ever seen. When he was a young man in the late 1800’s, he spent some of his time as a cowboy in Texas. Our family has a ledger book that he used to write down the words to songs and poems he heard around the campfire. It is so touching to look at those words, written over 100 years ago, in that beautiful hand.
I wrote a note of apology to someone not too long ago, and I typed it — never giving it a thought. But, when I was done, and ready to sign it, I realized that I had put a little wall of defense between me and that person by TYPING the note. Yessss, I was apologizing, but somehow the typed words said, “Yes, I’m apologizing, but I’m NOT groveling!” Well, when we apologize, I think if we truly mean it, we have to be prepared to do a tiny bit of groveling too. So, I tore up the typed note, got out some note paper, and wrote it from the heart — in my own hand.
Is there someone who you can think of who would be surprised and touched if a handwritten note arrived in their mailbox from you? That kind of “gift” is sooo cheap — yet, priceless to the receiver.
And, by the way, eloquent isn’t required. I think sometimes we don’t communicate because we “don’t know what to say.” Truly, the words you write aren’t nearly as important as the idea that you took the time and thought to WRITE them!
Thank you God for this free “gift” that we can give and receive from others.