Monday, January 17, 2011

The Treasure of Friendship

Letters from the Heart

Sometimes it’s hard to come right out and tell our friends how much we love and appreciate them.

We might feel awkward expressing deep feelings, even to our nearest and dearest, because it is not always a common practice. Sometimes we find it difficult to say "I love you" to those whom we love the most.

We might become choked up or embarrassed in the process, or we might fear we will embarrass them.

None the less, we all have these moments when we realize how fortunate we are to have the friends we have, and have had, and we may long to express our gratitude.

Moreover, it may be of tremendous benefit to our friends to be at the receiving end of our appreciation.

At times like these, writing a letter can help us say what we want to say without feeling self-conscious. Additionally, a letter gives our friends the space to truly take in our expression of love and the gift of being able to return to it time and again.

Facebook has been an evangelist of sorts, bringing together friends from times otherwise gone by.

I just recently reconnected with a dear friend whom I admired and respected from my High School days.

I loved him, and still do.

I respected him, and still do.

I looked up to him, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.

We have always shared our annual Christmas Cards, but Facebook has brought us a bit closer.

I recall my days as a senior in High School when my friend was studying medicine in Spain. I would receive an Air Mail envelope with a note from him updating me on his life. Those letters meant the world to me as they came at a time when transcontinental communication was a big deal, and remaining in touch with him somewhat validated my existence.

Those letters remain in a box in my attic.

Those who know me well know that I like to hold on to important pieces of my past.

This one friend, whom I'm speaking of, brought me to the home of a dear friend, Mildred Olsen, one day while in my late teens. Mildred lived in a beautiful old home atop a hill on Staten Island.

She was a beautiful spirit and we knew her through volunteer work that we all contributed to at the March of Dimes.

As we drove up the hill and into the circular drive, Mildred stood out on her veranda, looked at me, and said "Rob".

Now, I had always been known as "Bobby", but Mildred decided that day that I should grow into the name "Rob".

And so I did.

So, Richard, Mildred & I sat on her veranda overlooking the Verrazano Narrows between the Hudson River and New York Harbor. We enjoyed mature conversation coupled with some red wine, cheese & fruit blintzes, and a history of the the homestead.

Meanwhile, I listened to the stories of her life and how she lived for others, and I learned much about Mildred and her care for others as I also learned much about Richard.

Mildred, as well as Richard, became a catalysts in the formation of my life, and I appreciate them tremendously.

I would not be whoever it is that I am today without them.

I wrote Richard for some time, and I wrote Mildred as well, but times changed and letter writing fell by the proverbial wayside.

Richard & I are now suddenly closer through Facebook, and many of my partner Frank's friends are closer with him now as well.

I wish that I could say the same of Mildred, Dolores, Lorraine, Timothy, Barbara, Susan, and oh so many others. However, my heart and my mind hold them near & dear in daily thoughts and prayers.

I have recently collected differnt writing papers and notecards in hope that I will return to handwritten correspondence.

I would ask that we do the same and return to handwritten notes, while maintaining contact online, no matter how brief the notes may be, and that we keep a special place at which to do so and a special pen with which to write, allowing just a special moment to express our care for each other as a person.

As we sit to write to our friend, we might take a moment to consider the qualities we most value in our friendship and recall that.

That is, in fact, prayer. Prayer only takes a moment. A fleeting thought in our mind is an eternity in God's appreciation of our care and concern for one another.

There is no wrong and no shame in telling someone how important she or he was or is to us.

It might be the simple, fun reality that we always laughed together, enjoyed particular music, or just had fun in general.

It might also be that we knew how to share compassion, understanding, and held open hearts.

It could be both.

It could be all.

When we communicate, we listen with compassionate understanding and we feel safe enough to confess the deepest of our worst problems.

No matter the path, we always leave a conversation with a friend feeling better about everything and we hold a more realistic understanding of the true love that we've held for years.

Perhaps the new ideas and experiences we’ve been exposed to throughout the course of our friendship energize and invigorate us.

Either way, our valued friendships are treasures to be held in mystery, dreamed and fantasized about, and mapped in our hearts to be mined for eternity, such as the the golden riches they are.

Letters, which used to be somewhat common, are now as rare as treasure maps.

A handwritten letter makes a wonderful gift to be treasured always.

We might simply send it or hand deliver it out of the blue.

Whatever we choose, our letter will no doubt be received and treasured with a grateful heart.

So, please send someone a random note of love & kindness ... even if you don't know them!

I can only wish this was hand written to each of you in ink, but I trust that the ink of my heartfelt words pulses through your veins as the love I hold for each of you invigorates my heart.

I love you all, and I wish you the treasure hunt of a lifetime, fully knowing that if we think of one another for only a moment, God holds us eternally.

With love & light,


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