Our jaunty walking mailman pushed two letters through our mail slot on Thursday. That is a rare occurrence--two hand written letters delivered on the same day. Two different people slowing down time to handwrite a note, address an envelope, lick a stamp, and entrust the message to the time delay of the US Post Office. The sentiments could wait, needing neither tweeting, nor facebooking, nor texting, nor emailing. The first letter was from our sweet Alex who wrote to thank us for our recent trip to Disney World. He writes in pencil and no longer needs lines to guide his increasingly more sophisticated sentences down the page. It's a keeper. The second letter, pages of text, is from an old and dear friend. Dell was a mentor mother to me during my own young mothering years. A veteran mom with five kids, she took me under her comforting wing and I have never forgotten. I think of her often when I interact with young moms at church. Approaching 75, Dell writes of her quiet life atop a mountain. Dell and her whole family are huge, huge readers, and as typical with any conversation with Dell, she ends her letter listing her favorite current authors. I will look them up.
I treasure both of these missives. Few of us write letters by hand anymore. I confess that when I do write notes, typically I word process them, since I believe my penmanship deteriorating. I suppose we have become so accustomed to communicating instantaneously, we quickly click out our messages rather than slowly composing our thoughts.
This past week our internet was down. Both Jim and I had an erie sense of panic, even though our smart phones allow us 4G connection. We are perhaps too connected. We didn't used to be so wired up, and those days and that time minus laptops and Google's massive reach were filled with meaning and purpose. A WiFi-free house recalled that particular place of peace and quiet.
Speaking of peace..I just finished reading this book.
The first time I encountered Mary Pipher was a June, early 1990's, right after school ended. A colleague suggested I read her runaway best seller Reviving Ophelia, and so I did. It was hard to put down, the content and Pipher's writing so rivetingly true to what I saw in the young women I taught. Jim, at that time, was leading Conferences and Institutes here at Penn State, and I lobbied urgently to bring Mary Pipher to Penn State. And so he listened. Meeting Mary and Jim Pipher was for both my husband and me an unforgettable experience. We remained Christmas cards friends for several years, and Mary inserted a story we told her in a book she later wrote, The Shelter of Each Other. In small but meaningful way, I knew this writer beyond the words on her pages.
It has been a while since I have read one of her books, but I happened upon the mention of this book, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World from a friend's Goodreads page. Beginning my third official year of retirement, I continue to seek and explore the proper balance of peace, presence, and purpose and thus the appeal of this book to me right now. I loved it, for the intimacy I felt with the writer, for her candor in telling her story, and for the eternal truths Pipher articulates in this her memoir. She advocates slowing down and paying attention. She describes her struggles with making and taking time to meditate, and she deliberates on the pace and press of contemporary living. Once again, Mary Pipher delivers a story that speaks truth to my own journey and my own story.
I return back to the wired world, grateful for the technology which allows me easy connection to those I care about, as well as, enabling me to research topics of interest and to organize my life in words and images. However, I hope this this brief vacation away from such omnipresent technology has reset my internal operating system, shifting it into a saner, slower pace that takes the time to compose a life rather than simply click it away.
(I cannot leave this post without sharing this iconic Disney shot...our darling redhead in the foreground, the Magic Kingdom in the background!)
It was indeed a most magical,memory-making trip!