Years ago I enjoyed getting mail. A trip to the mailbox, especially around the holidays, was always a time of anticipation and expectation. Even when e-mail arrived on the scene I was excited to hear my computer say, "You've got mail." Believe me, those days are long gone. Looking at the "in-box" each morning now can be a source of anxiety rather than a source of expectation.
The art of letter writing seems to be fading away and that is too bad. I have been profoundly touched by letters I have received through the years. I have also tried to bring that same kind of joy to others by letters I have written. In all honesty, I will admit that I do it too infrequently these days.
I remember a few years ago I attended the 25th wedding anniversary of a couple I had come to know through a cancer support group. At one point during the chemotherapy treatments (many years prior to this gathering) the individual was really going through a rough patch. I sent a note in the mail with a few words of encouragement. In my mind the letter contained nothing significantly profound, but 15 or more years later I was shown that letter at the anniversary party. It was profoundly meaningful to the person that received the letter during a very difficult time of life. We shared the memories of suffering, surviving, and ultimately, thriving. I read the letter I had written all those years ago; it still didn't seem that magnificent to me. However, the person that received it read it from a completely different context.
I was reminded of all of this today when I saw a couple of interesting tidbits of historical information that occurred on December 11. In 1975 a first class postage stamp in the United States went from costing 10 cents to 13 cents. Ah! Wouldn't we enjoy seeing those prices now? On December 11, 1961 the Marvelettes released the song, "Please Mr. Postman." I am showing my age, but yes, I enjoyed hearing that song on the radio. Finally, I came across the quote from Josh Billings which I placed under the picture at the top of this article. That really made me think about my Advent journey.
As we prepare for Gaudete Sunday, are we seeking God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength? Are we pursuing sanctity with the kind of dedication Josh Billings is mentioning? "Be like a postage stamp--stick to one thing until you get there." Are we pursuing sanctity with that kind of single-minded dedication? I hope so. Listen closely to this weekend's second reading from Thessalonians and follow the simple guidance provided.
1. Rejoice always.
2. Pray without ceasing.
3. Give thanks.
4. Do not quench the Spirit.
5. Test everything.
6. Retain what is good.
7. Refrain from every kind of evil.
Be like a postage stamp and stick to one thing until you get there. My recommendation is to stick with God.
"May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)