Friday, July 8, 2011

Precious Time

Lately, far more often than I'd like to admit, I've found myself thinking, "I don't have time to write a letter today," or "I'll write tomorrow" or "Maybe I'll find time this weekend."

It's not that life hasn't indeed been busy. A family member was recently hospitalized. My toddler--despite being on the run and up the walls and down the stairs all day long--never seems to get tired. Expanded responsibilities and new technologies challenge me at my job.

No, it's not that extra time and energy aren't scarce. Rather, it's the conclusions I draw about that reality--that somehow, using some of my precious minutes to write a letter is either too relaxing (shouldn't I be cleaning the refrigerator instead?) or not relaxing enough (why not just unwind with some channel surfing and chardonnay?)

But when I do compose a note, as I did recently to my friend L from college, I am reminded that letter writing offers both discipline and release. Sure, putting pen to paper is a mental exercise requiring a bit more time and physical labor than texting, but, done right, it's a spiritual practice too. I suppose some letters for some people are a blood pressure-raising experience, but I have chosen to devote none of mine to settling scores with adversaries or hashing out bygone dramas with estranged relatives. Instead, my letters to friends and family reminisce on shared good times, recall old jokes and recognize how enriched I am by the blessings my relationships have bestowed. Like I told L:

I am so glad we have kept in touch through our Christmas cards. I look forward every year to your letter--I so enjoy hearing about your travels and your charity work, and I am so inspired by your sense of adventure and optimism.

It's when I'm most busy, my days filled with opportunities and obligations, that I most need a practice that encourages me to slow down, be thankful and think abundantly. While letter writing can seemingly threaten to leave me with less precious time, in the end it helps to make more of my time precious.

Write on.

MUCH MORE THAN COOKIES: More than a dozen women who were Girl Scouts together almost 40 years ago have kept their friendships strong. I am inspired, and a little nostalgic for our my own fond memories of Camp Wood E Lo Hi.

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