Shortly after my father died, I found some correspondence we’d exchanged years before. The letters gave me an observer’s view of my life at an age when I’d been blind to a number of things, ones I very much want to understand now. It was a gift to see those letters again.
Then, while cleaning out a drawer, I found the “Secret Friend” letters. Back when our children were small, they’d receive a postcard or letter every few weeks signed only with a small smiley face and the words “Secret Friend.”
Most often, the message offered encouragement, compliments or noted something positive that they’d done or that had happened in their life. Sometimes, if they were facing something difficult or had had a disappointment, it shared sympathy and support about that.
It was quite a few years before our daughter picked up on the fact that the writing on those cards and letters looked a lot like the neat block-printing on her father’s engineering plans. Even then, she was kind enough not to point this out to her younger brother right away.
In addition to their appealing element of mystery, those little pieces of correspondence offered a periodic reminder that someone out there had the recipient’s interest and happiness in mind, and wished the best for them.
They were also a reminder for me that there is something powerfully important in the written word that seems to transcend every other communication experience. Each time I travel, and return to more exchanges via the written word, I appreciate this more deeply.
It’s undoubtedly no coincidence that the founder of every major religion brought a book, each its own kind of letter to humanity. “Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit,” Bahá’u’lláh encourages humanity, soul-by-soul. “Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart.”