Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Letter

I receive hundreds of interesting tidbits of information and pieces via e-mail each week from lots of different sources. You may see some of these in an e-mail forward weeks or months from now. But every once in a while, one will drop into my lap that is so astonishing, I have to share it with you right away…

One of the lists I am on is from Rubel Shelly, because I believe that your success in business and in life is, in part, a direct connection with your level of spirituality and how you are able to apply those aspects to your secular life. There is a connection…it does matter…and I suppose most of us are a bit more attuned to such an aspect at this time of year.

Mr. Shelley has illuminated an interesting movement starting to pick up steam across the country. Those of you who have received e-mail replies from me with a scolding attachment correcting some mistatement of the facts (I love www.snopes.com) know that I am more than a little cynical about some of these "movements"…because they tend to be knee-jerk fads that come and go. They are often shallow.

But this one shows real promise.
Churches across the country are offering workshops to teach people how to write love letters.


Love letters.

Not soft porn, re-worked Barry White lyrics, or wooing-letters to the love- besmitten. Honest, from the heart letters written in true love and appreciation of the relatonships that make up the tapestry of our lives.

And all denominations are picking up on the importance of this idea of writing love letters…Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics, and Baptists have participated. From California to Florida, Texas to Alaska, people are enrolling.

An initiator of this movement is a 57-year-old man who found his late father's banged-up tackle box while cleaning out his garage. It dawned on him that the tangled, rusty fishing lures in that box were all he had left from his dad's hands. And he was suddenly angry at his father for not leaving him something more personal and substantive from his heart.

Then he wondered if he was doing any better by his own children. Wouldn’t you wonder that, too? How many of you have, or know of those you have in the last year undertaken the process of going through the “stuff” of a loved one, and reflecting upon our own situation. If you dropped dead, what would you leave your loved one’s?

On a business station, at this point, we generally like to talk about estate planning, and making sure all those important financial, fiduciary bases are covered. That’s important stuff, alright, but there’s more to it than that.

Greg Vaughn, the man left with little more than his father’s tackle box, resolved that day to leave his children letters-- documenting joys he had shared with them, his hopes for their future, his pride in their achievements. Letters about his faith in them as persons. And so it was from that event--and Vaughn's experiences in sharing it with some friends--that "Letters From Dad" was born.

Stop and think honestly for minute, when was the last time you sat down and wrote someone a real letter – as opposed to text messaging or just signing a birthday card? A letter that did not involve a sales call follow-up, a demand for accounts due, or any other business function.

Isn’t it amazing that we can crank-out mind-numbing business epistles, memos that run for paragraphs and paragraph, and subject our peers to Death by Power-Point…but sitting down and putting onto paper what’s inside your heart for those closest to you—without the therefore’s, where-of’s, and what-so-ever legalese – that’s hard.
That requires focus and concentration.
Writting a letter calls for a certain minimum-level of creative energy to communicate clearly. And it almost always pulls up feelings along with mere facts and memories.

That's why it is so hard for men to write one.
Ladies, you’d benefit from putting things on paper too.
But guys seem to have a tougher time with feelings. We struggle to put emotional content into conversations with people who mean the most to us.

So an occasional "Love ya!" in passing, or "Love, Bob" at the bottom of a greeting card is all some wives, children, or parents ever get from their husbands, dads, and sons.

So I am joining with Rubel Shelley in recommending an idea to you: Whatever else you give your mate or your offspring or your parents this Christmas, write them a love letter to go with it.

There's still time to write them.
There are 11-days until Christmas.
Write the letters.
Sleep on them.
Revise them and make them better.

Just put some of your heart on paper to them.
Tell her how important she is to you.
Let him know you are proud of him.
Thank her for what she does to make your life better.
Forget literary flourish.
Put some love on paper.
Offer it shamelessly.

Continue the practice next year – on an anniversary, birthday, or special event. Or just write one out of the blue.

The people you love both need and deserve to know it. What a wonderful legacy you can begin today—for Christmasses in the future.

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