Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Paul and Company

Letter received? I suppose one never knows with a blog, especially in the beginning. In this, it seems that blogs may not be all that different from Paul’s breadbox.

Today I happened to read about a Paul who was quite different from my childhood letter recipient. He was actually “my” Paul’s opposite in two key ways. For one thing (this being very important), he was real. For another: if this Paul received letters, history does not appear to know about them. This Paul was a letter WRITER, one significant enough that I’ll bet you have some of his letters in your home. He wrote such important things that others have written letters about his letters. “When Paul was absent, “ I read today, “he wrote you letters. By carefully studying these letters, you can strengthen yourselves in the faith that has been given to you.” (St. Polycarp)
I have a particular fondness for this Paul: this encouraging, strengthening, challenging, inspiring, letter- writing Paul. I am continually drawn toward not only reading his letters, but living them. I’m drawn – and called – to not just read, but live, the words in other books of the Bible as well. Now THAT is a challenge! To say I fall short is putting it mildly. But I want to keep trying. Minute by minute, I want to keep trying.
“Rejoice in the Lord always! ,” wrote Paul. “I say it again. Rejoice! Everyone should see how unselfish you are. The Lord is near. “ (Philippians 4:4-5) I don’t merely want to read these words – I want to live them.
Can I remember that the Lord is near - tomorrow - even the minute I pop out of bed? Hmm. I slide that question into the breadbox, uttering a prayer that I can spend tomorrow – at least that ONE day – making a “choice to rejoice.”

("Howdy Doody" photo in US public domain)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why a Breadbox?

My writing began at a breadbox. Mother’s metal breadbox, 1950s vintage with a pull-down front door - it made a dandy mailbox. Just the right receptacle for letters to Paul.
Paul was my make-believe husband, the kind that’s appropriate for an eight year old girl. I invented him for my growing family of dolls. Paul was never around, but that was no problem… I simply enlisted him in the Air Force. Did I have envelopes on hand for his letters, or stamps? Maybe not, but again: no problem. I could always get paper, and I could fold, and color, and draw.
“Dear Paul how are you I am fine. We have a new baby her name is Babs. I will put this letter in a envalop so youll get it soon.? I will write if we get another baby.”
Letter finished – letter squeezed into crack at top of breadbox door – letter sent. Letter left waiting in the darkness, stuck between Hostess Cupcakes and loaves of white bread.

Fast forward many years and here I am again, at the breadbox. I have no idea how many recipients of my letters there have been between Paul and......

…..well: you.

Now that I think of it, this is the first letter I’ve mailed in a “Breadbox” since Harriet was serving Ozzie’s dinner on primetime TV. I’ve written so many letters in the meantime that my husband (the real one) once remarked that I could write them for a living. I’ve also written articles, a book, and a multitude of journal volumes in the years between breadbox and blog. But the thing is: I prefer letters to any other kind of writing. I like the spontaneity of a letter; I like the randomness. I like finding out what I’m thinking when I see it appear on a page.

And with that, I welcome you to check out the breadbox. I hope we can visit again in a day or two. I will tell you now that I’ll be chatting about prayer, and about what it means to live for God in the midst of a busy world. And who knows what else might be dashed into the mix?
For now, this first letter is finished. Squeezed into a tiny crack in a corner of the Internet. Left waiting in cyberspace, somewhere between a blog about cupcakes and one with a photo of white bread.
Letter sent.


(painting on this post, by Henriette Browne, is in United States public domain)