Anna Quindlen wrote excellent essay for Newsweek

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Here is a snippet, I would love to know what you think?

“How is it, at a time when clarity and strength go begging, that we have moved so far from everyday prose? Social critics might trace this back to the demise of letter writing. The details of housekeeping and child rearing, the rigors of war and work, advice to friends and family: none was slated for publication. They were communications that gave shape to life by describing it for others.

But as the letter fell out of favor and education became professionalized, with its goal less the expansion of the mind than the acquisition of a job, writing began to be seen largely as the purview of writers. Writing at work also became so stylistically removed from the story of our lives that the two seemed to have nothing in common. Corporate prose conformed to an equation: information x polysyllabic words + tortured syntax = aren’t you impressed?

And in the age of the telephone most communication became evanescent, gone into thin air no matter how important or heartfelt. Think of all those people inside the World Trade Center saying goodbye by phone. If only, in the blizzard of paper that followed the collapse of the buildings, a letter had fallen from the sky for every family member and friend, something to hold on to, something to read and reread. Something real. Words on paper confer a kind of immortality.

Wouldn’t all of us love to have a journal, a memoir, a letter, from those we have loved and lost? Shouldn’t all of us leave a bit of that behind?”

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About christasterken

Committed to a life of purpose. Learning to live abundantly. Embracing creativity. Questioning. Delighting in the comforts of home and family. Determining not to settle only for how things are, but how they could be. Writing is part of who I am, so I trust In God who gave the gift to show me how I can serve Him through it. That is my life…one word at a time. Psalm 89:11a“Teach me your way , O Lord, and I will walk in your truth”

6 responses »

  1. Funny to read this right after sending you, Christa, a rather lengthy personal email trying to catch you up on all the events of our life this past week or two. I read this post and thank the Lord for my great-grandmother, grandmothers, and aunts for always taking the time to send hand-written letters to all of us over the years. I grew up receiving a hand-made birthday card from my Great-Grandma Florence every year, just like each and every one of her children, grandchildren & great grandchildren. She would use peacock and other feathers gathered from the family farm and arrange them on each individual card. Every year each one of us would have this reminder of Grandma’s special love that arrived in the mail just in time for our birthday celebration. I remember thinking when I was younger, “Does she spend EVERY day making these cards”? Our family is so large. She had 8 children and managed to get these yearly messages off to dozens upon dozens of her heirs.

    Perhaps she DID make them every day. My Aunt Doreen and my Grandma Lindhorn are both very good about sitting down regularly to write letters and notes to all of us, too. I am SO thankful that I had these women in my life as role models. I’ve spent my whole motherhood and married life making sure that nobody ever leaves for a business trip or summer camp without at least one handwritten message from “Mom” tucked in between some part of their suitcase or backpack where it will be found at, hopefully, just the right moment. In the case of a job interview, Dan might find a little slip of paper with some “between-you-and-I” code word for “break a leg”, “I love you”, “God’s will be done”, in his inside suit pocket where he’ll check once more for his hotel room key before leaving in the morning. The boys have come to know that they will probably be embarrassed if they unpack their pj’s in front of friends, so now typically do so with careful attention to detail. Still, I know when they go to bed at camp reading their favorite book, they also tuck my letters in between the pages and read them once or twice more as homesickness sets before their vacations end.

    Just the other day, I came across a journal I remembered from a long time ago. I even remembered that I had only written a few entries. I recall being given a new journal around the same time and always thinking I would just re-write those few days’ into the new one when I had a chance. Then, as the years have gone by and I keep coming across this same original book, I laugh and think about throwing it away. What good is a journal with only three entries anyway? Hmmm… guess what night I found it last? Saturday. My dear friend, Lisa, was visiting us from out of town. It had been years since she’d been able to make a trip to my house. We were lounging and laughing as usual and I happened across that silly journal while I was looking for a book she might like to read over the weekend. I opened it and read the few entries. The first was a perfect reminder to me of what I needed to hear that night for myself. What, in my heart, mattered most to me amidst the stress and times of difficulty. Then, I read an entry about Lisa. About a time we’d spent together. And then, I read the date. One year from tomorrow, which will be out 10th wedding anniversary. Funny to think I would have even considered throwing away this piece of my own history. This simple entry that, yes, someday, when my kids are grown and we’re celebrating ANOTHER ten years of marriage, I’ll be happy is still sitting there half-written in. Maybe I should pick it up tonight and start “Part Two”?

    • Laura, what beautiful words. You are a special woman and I know I will not be the only one blessed to read these reminders. In fact, this couldn’t have been more timely for me. I recently came across several barely started journals. I was unsure what to do with them, now I know 🙂 Thanks~

  2. I, too, have several “started” journals, but I also have some I treasure. . . they were written by our two daughters, who are now with the Lord waiting for us! Our oldest daughter died on New Years Eve, 1994. The last entry in her journal was dated Christmas night, 1994, and it said, in part . . . I long to see Your face. To know she longed to be with Him, helped us release her.

    On a lighter note. Years ago I started writing to my grandchildren, one little note a week, and sent them on seperate days so they would each get their own mail. One of my granddaughters, who is now eleven, told me she has saved every one of them. I wrote them on colored file cards, and added stickers. Simple enough. But, alas, somehwere in there I stopped.

    This article reminds me that I MUST start again. While I am busy trying to write my first fiction novel, I must not forget these precious years with my grandkids. I needed the reminder.

    I’m glad you told me about your blog . . . I will be an eager follower. julane

  3. Julane,

    Thank you for your post. It was good to read tonight and I am so thankful you have your daughter’s journal to recall those thoughts of hers whenever needed or longed for. So often, for me, just seeing the handwriting of my loved ones, now gone, is fulfilling. I can recall so vividly each of them and how they held their pens, dotted their “i”‘s – or not. 🙂

    God bless,
    Laura

  4. One of my most cherished posessions came after my parents death when we were going through all of the “stuff” that they thought necessary to keep. After sorting through all the hand-made cards, Valentines and pictures of a couple of generations, there was a neatly bundled stack of letters, a round-robin sort of communication between my mother, her sister and my grandmother. Over a couple of decades, many things were chronicled, and when my grandmother died, the letters continued between the two sisters. Somehow, the pain of loosing my parents was softened by this wonderful snapshot of the relationships that came alive thru these lovingly stored communications.

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