Letters to Change the World

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by Colter

To read the letters and Colter's personal reflections on the experience, click on the image

To read the letters and Colter's personal reflections on the experience, click on the image

There is something powerful in the written word…the hand-written word.  We live in a culture enamored with the ability to send information wherever and whenever by typing messages on our computers or even our phones. Therefore it seems to demand something to take the time to sit down and write out a thoughtful letter to a friend or a family member.  (Especially since my hand is so out of shape!) In a sense, I hope my cramped hand will act as a sort of penance of all the careless forms of communication I have used over the years.

I was struck by the thoughtfulness of JRR Tolkien as I read through his letters during this colloquium.  Whether it was to a colleague, a close friend, his son, or a critic he took the time to be precise and considerate with what he wrote.  I attended a class on the theology of CS Lewis last semester and was also amazed at the time he spent in correspondence with various friends and fans through letters.  It evidently absorbed an enormous amount of his time.

Both Tolkien’s and Lewis’ examples has been the inspiration for my final Artifact assigned in our “Road Goes Ever On” colloquium.  I intend to write several letters to various friends and family members (I have to start there since I don’t currently have any fans or critics). In order to make it more like writing letters in the era of Tolkien and Lewis I will write the letters by hand, revise them, and then rewrite them on more professional looking stationary.  My hope is to begin correspondences that will continue beyond the end of this project and lead me to a life of sending letters.

I would also like to point out some specific intentions I have for the content of these letters.  Many times in the past I have fired off quick emails to the same family and friends targeted in this particular project without any real thought and effort put into them.  They don’t contain much information other than what the weather is like in Abilene or my plans for the upcoming weekend.  Although these emails are important and technology in this way has allowed us to be in frequent contact with those we might otherwise not, I feel as though I can put deeper subjects in a letter.  To preview a few of the letters to follow, I plan on asking some life advice from my dad, sharing thoughts on a presentation from Summit with my sister, and some anxiety for the future with my mom.  As I said earlier, a goal of mine is to continue these correspondences and if I am going to spend the time to write letters I want their content to be as fulfilling as the action of writing.

I realize that the world will not be drastically changed by me writing letters to people as my title might suggest. However, I hope and pray that it will make a difference in other people’s lives in addition to helping me express myself better and have more concern for the people around me.  There is a Chinese proverb that goes, “A single spark can start a prairie fire.”  Maybe an individual writing letters will be a spark that inspires others to also seek to deepen their relationships with each other.

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