When I interviewed for my current job, I was given a book. The Journey of our Love is a collection of letters, notes, and postcards exchanged between St. Gianna Beretta Molla and her husband Pietro.
The letters are not only a beautiful record of their lives together (in everything from heartfelt romantic sentiments to a list of items to bring from home when Pietro joins his family on vacation), but is also a testament to the joy and adventure of a pen and paper correspondence. Whether to a family member, a friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a husband or wife, there is something particularly sweet about words you have waited days, or even weeks, to read. There is something special about a piece of paper someone took the time to fill in order to share a piece of their life with you.
Even after the telephone became a part of daily life, Pietro and St. Gianna continued to write to each other whenever they were apart. Their letters were treasured not only by them, but also by their children after they were gone, as a testament to the love of their parents. And now, as a book, they offer the world an inside look at a love that was always moving towards God.
There is nothing wrong with modern means of communication (I love being able to chat with friends and family, or just let a friend know I am praying for her with a quick text), but nevertheless, here are three reasons that you should write a letter anyways.
1) It is both authentic solitude and authentic communion
When you sit down to write a letter, you aren’t with the person you are communicating with. The fact that they can’t respond, they don’t even know what you’ve said, until the words are (literally) far from your pen, makes the experience one where you can really spend time in your own head and heart, getting to know yourself. At the same time, writing a letter is, by it’s nature, communal. It brings two people, who are (usually) geographically distant together, and reminds us that even when we are alone, our loved ones are always with us.
2) It reminds us to slow down.
It takes time to write a letter. Between the time to sort through your thoughts and understand what you want to say and the time it takes to actually put those words down on paper, even a short letter deserves a few moments of peace and quiet. When we take the time, however, that spirit is not only manifested in our own hearts, but becomes a part of what you send to your loved ones.
3) Handwriting is awesome.
We are made to be creative. And our hearts are naturally moved by beauty. Of course there is the chance to arrange words beautifully in many mediums, digital or otherwise. But there is a chance in a letter to communicate not only in what you write, but how you write it. Even chicken scratches that require a deciphering tool can say something endearing about the author (even if it is simultaneously frustrating...). Whether you are a master calligrapher or you just slow down long enough to make the letter legible, whether you prefer glittery purple or classic black ink, plain white copy paper or vintage stationary… there is so much more to a letter than the words you write. It is a chance to express so much more of yourself than a text or email, and that alone is beautiful.